Thursday , October 18 2018

Saudi slams ‘repression’ – Rape horrors haunt Rohingya

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24, (Agencies): Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, on Saturday condemned the government of Myanmar’s “policy of repression” against minority Rohingya Muslims. “My country is gravely concerned and condemns the policy of repression and forced displacement carried out by the government of Myanmar against the Rohingya minority,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. Bangladesh and aid organisations are struggling to help 422,000 Rohingya Muslims who have arrived since Aug 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants triggered a Myanmar crackdown that the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing. The minister said Saudi Arabia provided $15 million to help meet the needs of the Rohingya refugees who fl ed to neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, Shamila clutches her daughter’s hand so tightly it turns white as she recounts how soldiers broke into her home in Myanmar and gang-raped her in front of her children — a story heard over and over in Bangladesh refugee camps. UN observers say they have seen scores of rape and gang rape survivors among the Rohingya who have fled ethnic violence in Myanmar in recent weeks. Almost all said the perpetrators were men in uniform who they identified as Myanmar military. Those cases, experts say, are almost certainly the tip of the iceberg.

The social stigma surrounding rape in their conservative Muslim society and the challenge of finding shelter and food means many women and girls have likely not yet come forward. Shamila, not her real name, says she was still bleeding from the attack when she arrived in Bangladesh after walking for three days. “All three soldiers raped me,” she said, tears in her eyes, as she gripped the hand of the six-year-old sitting beside her in a pink vest and shorts.

“When they left, I ran out of the house with two of my children and followed the crowd of people running for their lives.” Shamila’s husband was out when the attack happened and she has not seen him since. She does not know where her other three children are — they were playing outside when the soldiers came and had disappeared by the time it was over, she said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Sunday that the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh is “the most urgent refugee emergency in the world” right now. Filippo Grandi told reporters in the Bangladeshi town of Cox’s Bazar that the needs of the more than 430,000 people who have fl ed terrible violence in Myanmar over the last month are enormous and that the international community must step up financial and material aid to Bangladesh if the South Asian nation is to be able to help the refugees.

The latest round of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state erupted when a Rohingya insurgent group launched deadly attacks on security posts Aug 25, prompting Myanmar’s military to launch “clearance operations” to root out the rebels. Those fleeing have described indiscriminate attacks by security forces and Buddhist mobs. The government has blamed the Rohingya, saying they set fire to their own homes, but has provided no proof. The UN and others have described the violence as ethnic cleansing. Rohingya have faced persecution and discrimination in majority- Buddhist Myanmar for decades and are denied citizenship, even though many families have lived there for generations.

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