An extensive new report based on over 250 interviews with survivors and military personnel contradicts the Myanmar government’s claims about the attacks on Rohingya communities and details how authorities trained neighboring civilian communities to attack the Rohingya in a genocide-like manner.
The human rights organization Fortify Rights released a 160-page report, titled “They Gave Them Long Swords,” earlier this month focusing on the events that led up to the attacks of hundreds of Rohingya villages in the Northern Rakhine state last August.
The onslaught caused over 700,000 Rohingya, a majority of which are Muslim, to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in what was said to be the fastest refugee outflow since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The report reveals that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Myanmar military has committed genocide and crimes against humanity.
“The Myanmar authorities for months have been peddling to the diplomatic community and the international community this narrative that they were simply responding spontaneously to terrorist attacks on Aug. 25,” Fortify Rights CEO Matt Smith told The Christian Post. “What we documented was that the authorities were actually making preparations for many months in advance for what amounted to mass atrocity crimes. In piecing it together, it’s a very sinister picture.”
The new report is based off a 21-month investigation relying on 254 interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, Myanmar military troops, police personnel, current and former members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, humanitarian aid workers, doctors and others with knowledge of the situation.
The organization documents how Myanmar authorities committed mass killings and rape and destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages. Although the Myanmar government claims its attack on the Rohingya was the result of Rohingya militants attacking dozens of police outposts, the report shows that what happened last Aug. 25 was the result of weeks and months of preparation and planning on the part of the Myanmar military.
“The authorities were effectively disarming Rohingya civilians while arming non-Rohingya civilians, basically training those communities to inflict violence on the Rohingya. They activated them on Aug. 25 and there were whole massacres,” Smith said. “We also documented how authorities cut humanitarian aid in the weeks and months before Aug. 25. They cut food aid. There were at the time more than 80,000 children under the age of five who were suffering severe, acute malnutrition.”
According to Smith, the Myanmar government was essentially “weakening” the Rohingyas before the massive attack against them.
“The authorities also moved a huge number of soldiers. We documented how the Myanmar army deployed 27 battalions,” Smith explained. “A conservative estimate would suggest that about 11,000 soldiers were operational on the ground in addition to about 900 police combat personnel — basically SWAT teams. It was a very brutal and systematic operation.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith