Bangladesh is facing another exodus of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, but this time with a force that was not seen since the crisis began in 1978. There have been at least two large scale Rohingya migrations since that year. The largest number, counting up to three hundred thousand refugees, was reached in the year 1992.
Nearly 400,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh since the army started its latest crackdown on August 25, following attacks on several police posts and an army base. And they killed at least two from each family.
Cellphones to reach out to separated relatives, bags of spices that remind them of home, solar panels to bring a little light to their ragged tents — these are what the terrified, starving, exhausted Rohingya carry as they escape the violence in Myanmar, reports the Associated Press.
In the last 20 days, around 100+ babies were born in the no man’s land near Bangladesh-Myanmar border without any medical attention, in unsafe and unhygienic conditions.
Misleading and false news have always played a part in escalating the Rohingya conflicts almost every year. And this time the photographs are not doctored, with most of them authenticated by BBC and the Guardian, but the context in which they are being used is false and inflammatory. The captions accompanying them are but propaganda in a conflict. A picture circulated from Myanmar claims to show insurgents training, which is actually a photograph of freedom fighters during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Pressure is mounting on Myanmar to end the violence, with the US calling for protection of civilians and Bangladesh urging safe zones to enable refugees to go home. UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said on Monday that the security operation in Rakhine appeared to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
At least one Bangladeshi and four Rohingyas were killed, as well as 12 injured, within a week at the Naikhyangchhari border in Bandarban due to exploding landmines. The landmines had been planted on the no man’s land in breach of international law.
When Aung San Suu Kyi rose to power there were high hopes that the Nobel peace prize winner would help heal the country’s entrenched ethnic divides. But she has been accused of silently standing by while violence is committed against the Rohingya. International pressure is growing on her to curb the military operations. An attempt to revoke her Nobel peace prize has garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.