“Last fall, Burmese voters elected their first democratic government in half a century. That inspired hope that the country’s long history of violence and oppression was finally taking a turn from the better.”
“Now, just one year later, that promise has given way to dread. In a small pocket of western Burma, a new phase has begun in what threatens to become the genocide of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority.”
“Government security forces have responded with widespread violence to a series of coordinated attacks by militant Rohingya on police outposts since October 9. The military has created a 20 kilometer-square “operation zone” barring all independent journalists from the area. Despite the restrictions, numerous reports have emerged of rapes, torture, and extrajudicial killings of Rohingya civilians by the police and army as they sweep through villages in search of militants.”
“A recent escalation in the latest violence has raised the official death toll since the October crackdown to 134, although Rohingya advocacy groups put it at more than 420. Despite Bangladesh’s refusal to take refugees, several hundred are believed to have fled to camps there. A number who crossed the Naf River separating the two countries in the middle of November were gunned down mid-river. While a number of security personnel have been killed in skirmishes, the overwhelming majority of deaths have been Rohingya. The government has claimed that all are militants, but with independent media completely barred from the region, the claims have been impossible to verify.”
“In recent decades, scholars of genocide have identified several likely indicators of mass killings. Several of those signs are now clearly in evidence in western Rakhine”.