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About 400,000 rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar

Thousands of people come to Bangladesh, daily escaping from the persecution of the burmese authorities in an exodus without precedent

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About 400,000 rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar

In background, just a mile away, an image is sufficient to explain flight of Ramjam: several columns of smoke tiznan sky on coast of Myanmar (former Burma), separate Shapuree by mouth of river Naf, natural border between both countries. Are ir villages burning. Your past in flames. The imposing humarada sends a clear message to rohingya: not you return. You are not welcome.

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“we have Never had freedom, always live scared. We torture m in different ways”, stammers Ramjam, that only now notices that his face has been laid bare. Pudorosa, it covers face, except eyes, with a black veil. Muslims, rohingya decades, have been marginalized and persecuted in Myanmar, a majority buddhist, which do not recognize as one of its 135 ethnicities officials despite living for centuries in western state of Rakhine (today known as Arakan), on border with Bangladesh, a country where 90% of population professes muslim religion. Hiding behind that y are illegal immigrants bangladeshis, Myanmar were denied citizenship in 1982; it was his conviction to ostracism, deprivation of basic rights such as education or employment. But from 25th of August, when rebels of so-called Salvation Army, Rohingya of Arakan (ARSA, its acronym in English) launched an offensive against a military barracks and police in burma are also massacred in response, in midst of what Government of Myanmar defends as a campaign against “terrorist forces”.

The UN has warned of what he considers could be “ethnic cleansing manual”. Estimated that around 1,000 people have lost ir lives and 400,000 (401.000, according to latest count) have crossed into Bangladesh since n. It is an exodus without precedent.

In this country, multiply testimonies of survivors telling ir stories of how military and mobs of buddhists raped and killed ir loved ones to death, hacked to death with machetes. To be burned alive. Human Rights Watch (HRW), which has been detected through satellite images 62 villages killed in norrn Rakhine, says that “y are set on fire deliberately by burmese Army”. It is, he points out, one of major tactics of “cleansing campaign” against this minority. Amnesty International (AI), second: “We observe a clear pattern and systematic abuses. The security forces surround a village, shoot people flee in panic, and n burn houses to ground. In legal terms, it is crimes against humanity: systematic attacks and forced expulsion of civilians”, he stresses, Tirana Hassan, AI.

Refugees rohingya carry goods in field of Jalpatoli, between Myanmar and Bangladesh. DOMINIQUE FAGET AFP

Assaults, incessant, three weeks after crisis began, it's estimated that tens of thousands of people cross every day border with Bangladesh, especially by river Naf. The UN anticipates that number of refugees could double in next few weeks; if so, population of rohingya in Rakhine, estimated at about a million before anor outbreak of violence of lesser intensity by end of 2016, would be decimated.

“as long As re are rohingya in Myanmar, y will continue burning down villages,” points out Hussein from Shapuree, where he proclaims only one in charge of boats that are moved to edge of burma to rescue fleeing. For “modest” price of about 4,000 kyat (currency of Myanmar) per head is around 40 euros. A fortune to a community that lacks economic resources, preventing families crossing river if you don't have stipend. Without discussing morality of your business, Hussein, also a rohingya, he argues that he still has family in Myanmar, and ensures that it will continue bringing more “compatriots” to coast of Bangladesh.

So it is. Barely an hour after arrival of barge Ramjam, or two approaching shocks with violence by waves. Of m are jumping into water with difficulty, dozens of women, children and elderly, downloading as can bags of rice, some water bottles and rucksacks of clos and or belongings. Among several bring down unusual wear system gave a petite octogenarian who could not stand when it comes to shore, just lying down, lifeless. I was sick, have it, and you need to rest after journey. Spent two days wear waiting for boat, after a week of tortuous path from ir villages, also swept away by flames. Despite drama, greet your lucky: locals who attend newcomers tell m that on day before a woman died from drowning, colliding ir boat with anor.

All you have to undertake towards inside of Cox's Bazar, a district that belongs to island, because that is where y operate, NGOS and UN agencies. Just twenty kilometres of road, on banks settle vast majority of nearly 400,000 new arrivals, in addition to 300,000, approximately, that were already living in two refugee camps of officers, Katupalong and Balu Khali, because of ongoing tensions in Rakhine for years. The picture is bleak: tides of wandering families, seeking shelter, building tens of thousands of tents with plastic bags and bamboo on shoulders of road, over hills. Babies who are malnourished, elderly, starving. Hundreds of thousands of people at mercy of humanitarian assistance, overwhelmed with an influx of refugees unparalleled in area.

Refugees, rohingya asked for clos and food in Tankhali, Bangladesh, on 15th of September. Paula Bronstein Getty Images

“We are responding to most urgent needs in extent of our capabilities and resources (...) But we will not be able to meet m without additional help of donors,” says Ikhtiyar Aslanov, head of delegation of International Red Cross in Bangladesh, said in a statement.

In Cox's Bazar over past ten days, Abdul Kadir gives faith of misfortunes of day. “We don't have food. The last time we eat something was last night, because of some good samaritans gave us money to buy it,” says man, of 60 years, who he became an associate professor in Rakhine because it was of few in his village to pass high school. Kadir had fled during 13 days with his family and dozens of neighbors, after which army burned down ir houses. “Ye are not of this country. If not os ye shall press, I we will kill you”, he said that y threatened to ignite flames. Eleven of his traveling companions lost ir lives, shot at, after by security forces. During escape, y found corpses charred and massacred in or villages, he says. A hell of a left back but future is not very promising ahead.

“What we want is to return to our homeland,” says Kadir. Know that duration of ir stay in Bangladesh, which currently opens its doors to rohingya, but has already warned of unsustainability of situation, is uncertain. Regretful, admits that returning to Myanmar is still a goal unthinkable. “Doing so now would be a suicide.”


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