Sunday, February 18, 2018 | ePaper

Landmine blasts killing refugees everyday

UN Rights Chief for allowing his men unfettered access to the country,: Denial of reality over Rohingya problem causing great damage, 370,000 enter BD so far, 5 lakh more waiting, says UN: USCIRF terms

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Staff Reporter :
As Myanmar government has planted landmines across a section of its border with Bangladesh, Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state are meeting the tragic end of their lives on the way.
The purpose may be to prevent the return of Rohingyas fleeing the violence, according to sources. The Myanmar security forces planted the landmines, which is banned internationally. As they stepped onto suspected mines near the border, their legs and other parts of the body were blown off.
A Rohingya refugee who narrowly escaped the explosion said the many of them died on the spot in explosions at many points of no man's land area.
Some 370,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar and entered Bangladesh since an upsurge in violence late last month, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
"An estimated 370,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25," Joseph Tripura, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, told the media.
A Rohingya man was killed in landmine explosion inside Myanmar opposite to Naikhyangchhari border early Tuesday. The ill-fated person has been identified as Mokter Hossain, 40.
He received critical injuries in landmine explosion while trying to enter Bangladesh crossing the border on Monday midnight.
The victim's family members rushed him to Naikhyangchhari Health Complex where Mokter died around 1:00am, Naikhyangchhari Sadar UP chairman Taslim Iqbal Chowdhury confirmed the death.
So far seven people, including women, were killed and three injured in the explosions of landmines planted by Myanmar Army on Myanmar-Naikhyangchhari border in a week.
Besides, many survivors with burn injuries in landmine explosion were rushing to the Chittagong Medical College Hospital everyday. 
Bangladeshi officials and Amnesty researchers believe new explosives have been recently planted, including one that the rights group said blew off a Bangladeshi farmer's leg and another that wounded a Rohingya man.
Thousands of Rohingyas are entering Bangladesh everyday, Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner on Tuesday told journalists.
The Rohingyas who have already arrived Bangladesh said over five lakh others are waiting at many pints of no man's land to cross the border. "Thousands of Rohingyas, now staying at townships and hilly areas of Rakhine state and Indian bordering area Mizoram, are waiting to enter Bangladesh to save their lives," a Rohingya man now staying at a camp in Cox's Bazar told journalists on Tuesday.        
Rohingyas, most of them women, children and elderly people, are waiting at the no-man's land.
They are entering Bangladesh crossing the Naf River through different border points, including Lambabeel, Kharaingaghona, Lambabeel and Ulubunia in Teknaf upazila, and Anjumanpara and Thaingkhali Rahmaterbeel in Ukhia upazila.
More are gathering at different points of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border and waiting to enter Bangladesh
Based on interviews with witnesses and analysis by its experts, Amnesty International (AI) said there appeared to be a targeted use of landmines along a narrow stretch of the northwestern border with Rakhine state.
"This is another low in what is already a horrific situation in Rakhine state," said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty's Crisis Response Director, who is currently near the border.
The Myanmar military's callous use of inherently indiscriminate and deadly weapons at highly trafficked paths around the border is putting the lives of ordinary people at enormous risk.
"They are putting the landmines in their territory along the barbed-wire fence" between a series of border pillars, said one of the sources.
"Our forces have also seen three to four groups working near the barbed wire fence, putting something into the ground," one of the sources said. "We then confirmed with our informers that they were laying landmines."
The UN rights chief said the Myanmar government should stop claiming that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages.
"This complete denial of reality is doing great damage to the international standing of a Government which, until recently, benefited from immense goodwill," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein while addressing to the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
He called on the Myanmar Government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population.
"I strongly urge the authorities to allow my office unfettered access to the country," he said.
In Bangladesh, he encouraged the Government to maintain open borders for the Rohingya refugees, and urged the international community's support in helping the authorities receive and better assist the refugee population.
"Turning to the domestic situation in Bangladesh, I appreciate the Government's constructive engagement with my office, and I would like to continue to work with the authorities to address the range of very serious human rights issues in the country," said the rights boss.
He deplored current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country.
Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation.
"Burma's security forces have razed entire villages, slaughtered families, and even placed landmines in the path of fleeing refugees, creating a staggering humanitarian disaster," according to USCIRF's Chairman Daniel Mark.
"Burma's security forces must end their attacks on civilians in Rakhine state," said Chairman Mark. 
"We call upon Burma's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to unequivocally condemn the atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. Myanmar's government and military must uphold their international humanitarian and human rights commitments."
Beginning on August 25 and rapidly escalating ever since, Myanmar's security forces have conducted disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks against Rohingya Muslims, conflating the unlawful and deadly acts of a few with the overwhelmingly peaceful population now fleeing for its life.

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