Suu Kyi failing to match hopes: HRW

Chittagong in Bangladesh suffered from overcrowding before the recent influx of Rohingya refugees. Source: Wikimedia

Myanmar’s democratically elected government has failed to hold the military accountable for persistent human rights violations, says Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy government has done little to address the military’s brutal crackdown of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and numerous abuses against civilians in other border states, reform laws limiting free expression and assembly rights, the US-based NGO argued.

“[The] new government brought high hopes that Burma had finally turned the corner toward becoming a rights-respecting democracy,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director. “But to reach that goal, the government needs to stand up for principles of human rights, and that means holding the military accountable.”

Bangladesh has called on Myanmar to end the violence that has forced thousands of Rohingya to flee across their shared border.

Dhaka said the influx of refugees had hampered economic development.

At least 65,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the Burmese military launched a crackdown following alleged October 9 attacks on three police border posts in Rakhine State.

The military locked the area down and denied access to humanitarian aid groups, the media and right activists.

Satellite imagery revealed widespread arson attacks on Rohingya villages, with at least 1,500 buildings destroyed, according to HRW. Myanmar has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and even genocide against the Rohingya while the authorities implausibly claim that the Muslim communities burned down their own homes.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali held talks with a special envoy to Suu Kyi in Dhaka.

“The special envoy has been informed that the recent arrival of a huge number of Myanmar nationals and the long and illegal stay of approximately 300,000 unregistered Myanmar nationals have disrupted stability and economic development in the very important region of Chittagong,” the minister told the media.

There were reportedly 33,000 registered and 300,000 unregistered Rohingya in Bangladesh before the October crackdown.

“Bangladesh has demanded quick restoration of normal situation in Rakhine State so that Myanmar nationals who have taken shelter in Bangladesh can quickly go back home with full security and safety to their livelihood,” Mahmood said.

The Bangladeshi government faces domestic and international pressure to open its border to the Rohingya, while the authorities are struggling to contain the current numbers in the crowded country.

Bangladesh has reinforced the border and deployed the coastguard to prevent increased arrivals.

Rohingya arriving in Bangladesh have reported rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar’s uniformed services although the government denies the allegations.