Myanmar has come under international scrutiny lately for the escalating crisis among its Rohingya Muslim population. As what has been labeled by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are being forced to flee the brutality in Myanmar.
Landmines on the Border
Yet as many innocent civilians run from persecution, they are finding an even worse fate awaits them. Landmines are widely littering their path to the border with Bangladesh. Children are among the affected, with a 15-year-old boy losing both his legs yesterday after stepping on a landmine while running from Myanmar bullets.
Despite the area being mined during the 1990s, according to sources in Bangladesh and the human rights group, Amnesty International, the Myanmar army has planted many new land mines recently. This has fueled the ethnic cleansing and leaves the Rohingya Muslims without an option to escape.
These claims have been denied heavily by Myanmar officials, yet the Rohingya is considered a “stateless” minority and are illegal immigrants in this heavily Buddhist country.
Rohingya Leaving Myanmar in the Thousands
So far, over 300,000 Rohingya have managed to escape persecution in Myanmar. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, will be visiting the main refugee camp for the Rohingya today. Although, she stated that Myanmar needed to solve a problem of their own making.
The de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing mounting international criticism, with The White House urging her to “respect the rule of law” and step up all efforts to end the widespread displacement of civilians.
Hospitals have been inundated with civilians facing severe injuries caused by landmines. One mother was quoted as saying her children’s injuries were so bad that “it’s better that Allah takes them, they are suffering so much.”
Questions for the Myanmar Government
It is still not clear who is responsible for the placing of landmines, or when they were laid, but the issue raises uncomfortable questions for the Myanmar government.
This latest round of force and ethnic cleansing began in earnest on August 25 this year, when several Rohingya militants attacked designated police posts in northern Rakhine. 12 security personnel were killed in the attacks that provoked the widespread persecution of the Rohingya.
Many innocent people have reported their villages being set on fire in the backlash and being driven out by brutal force. The UN Security Council is set to convene this week in a closed-door meeting to discuss the “deteriorating situation” in Rakhine state and how to put an end to the suffering.
So far, neighboring Bangladesh has opened up its borders to the fleeing Rohingya and are set to host hundreds of thousands more. Yet despite their generosity, refugee camps are steadily filling up and newly arrived people are forced to sleep rough upon whatever ground they can find.