Tuesday, 16 April 2013

New Year. No 3rd Rohingya Massacre. But...

Wednesday 17th April is the Burmese Buddhist New Year. Today is Tuesday 16th April, the last day of the Thingyan, the Water Festival, when evil is traditionally washed away. A third massacre of the Rohingya was predicted to take place even before or during the water festival.

So far this third massacre of the Rohingya has not happened. This is a huge success. It is not often when struggling for human rights we get the chance to celebrate our victories. But I feel if we can reach the Burmese New Year without a third massacre that is a moment worth celebrating.

Over the past few days during the water festival there were 3 homes reported as burnt in the township of Maungdaw. However the military quickly stepped up security and it does appear that this time they were following orders to protect, rather than stand by and let violence spread before their eyes as has taken place on previous occasions. No doubt these orders came as a result of increased international pressure, which has come about as a direct result of our online campaign. Thank you all, you are helping save lives, property, and unimaginable suffering!

In addition to 3 homes being burnt, for which a Rohingya lady was wrongly arrested (further details of one of the houses here), over the past few days of the Water Festival there have been reports of a father and son being hacked and denied medical treatment at the nearby hospital, 1 Rohingya man shot and killed and another 3 injured whilst collecting bamboo, 5 Rohingya arrested and tortured after they were caught scavenging for leaves to eat, 4 Rohingya never returning after fishing, a Rohingya man beaten by police and trishaw confiscated, a return of the census operation whereby Rohingya are forced to sign as illegal Bengali immigrants, a report of further extortion by police, the mother of two Rohingya children that died in a tent fire accident due to cooking was arrested, the closing down of an abattoir in the name of animal rights but actually known to be further cutting off all Rohingya supplies of food, and an attempt to stone a mosque. All these events are common types of occurrence and these types of incidents have been reported on a weekly and sometimes daily basis since the first attack last June.

Of urgent concern now is the imminent risk of flooding. In approximately 6 weeks time the rains will arrive in Burma. At least 20,000 Rohingya are known to be currently camped out in paddy fields which will be flooded in the monsoon. The Burmese government have stated that there are no plans to move the Rohingya. It is understood that some shelters are now being built on the site of flood plains, without drainage. Urgent international intervention is now needed to prevent further human tragedy and massive loss of life.

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