Fortify Rights on violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State
Quotes from Fortify Rights on violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State
Quotes attributable to Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights on the unfolding emergency in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar:
We condemn the militants' attacks on police posts in northern Rakhine State on October 25. State security forces should respond with caution and in a rights-respecting way. They're not.
We're receiving consistent reports that the army is opening fire on unarmed civilians and killing men, women, and children. We documented similar violations late last year, including horrendous killings of infants, mass gang-rape, and other violations.
The government is again alleging that Rohingya are burning down their own homes. In doing so, the government is fueling the idea that all Rohingya are intent on deceiving the world and that all Rohingya are combatants. It's not only incorrect, it's dangerous.
Suu Kyi's office is implicating aid workers in militancy and suggesting the WFP is feeding militants. The WFP a few other aid groups have kept civilians alive, a population the government would otherwise let starve. Before this recent spate of violence broke out, it was estimated that more than 80,000 Rohingya children under the age of five had acute severe malnutrition, also know as wasting, due in large part to strict restrictions on freedom of movement.
We've consistently documented avoidable deprivations in aid to Rohingya, and now this. Days before the militant attack, the Myanmar Army was blocking food deliveries to displaced Rohingya. Hungry people are weaker.
Suu Kyi's inflammatory propaganda is fueling anti-Rohingya and anti-aid-worker sentiment at a time when she should be doing everything in her power to instill calm, promote human rights, and open more humanitarian space. This is a pattern. Since October, her office has consistently defended the military's actions in Rakhine State, issuing knee-jerk denials of mass rape and other violations despite mountains of evidence. Her refusal to cooperate with U.N. fact finders is the latest attempt to cement a culture of impunity. Her office needs to urgently change course.
Most importantly, the military needs to change course. The authorities evacuated 4,000 non-Muslim residents in northern Rakhine State, and not a single Muslim. This strengthens the appearance that an attack on civilian Muslims is underway.