A recent Amnesty International report has cited clear evidence that the Myanmar (Burma) army is planting landmines aimed at fleeing Rohingya Muslims. The most recent casualties in reoccurring landmines incidents involving fleeing civilians, were five civilians among whom two were two children.
Landmines are illegal, drawing from the stipulations of the 1997 international treaty, most particularly for their lack of capacity to decipher between civilians and fighters.
Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director, revealed that the organization has been observant of the events across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and has condemned the Burmese army for what it believes is a conscientious military exercise.
“There is a reason why the use of antipersonnel landmines is illegal: they kill and maim indiscriminately and can’t distinguish between fighters and ordinary people,” said Tirana Hassan.
Bangladeshi authorities, substantiating these claims reported by Amnesty International, have announced that they were lodging a formal complaint with Myanmar to seek clarifications over the persistent landmines incidents.
“The Myanmar army is one of only a handful of state forces worldwide, along with North Korea and Syria, to still openly use antipersonnel landmines,” Tirana Hassan explained further. “Authorities must immediately end this abhorrent practice against people who are already fleeing persecution.”
In another disturbing development in the beginning of September, a woman’s leg was blown off while making concerted efforts to meet simple domestic concerns of daily living.
In a session with Amnesty International, a relative of the woman who suffered the horrendous accident revealed that the woman was on a mission to fetch water for a bath when she stepped on the landmine. According to Kalma, “A few minutes later I heard a big explosion and I heard someone had stepped on a mine. It was only later I realized it was my mother-in-law.”
In addition to the landmine issue, several videos have surfaced recently of police beating Rohinga civilians, which has only inflamed the international outcry to cease the hostilities.
Such violence typifies the worrisome expeditions of the Burmese army in a rage of violence that has ravaged the Rohingya people. Over 280,000 civilians so far have fled the crisis to neighboring Bangladesh since August 25 of this year, with unchecked escalations in violence according to statistics from the United Nations. This population of refugees (which is almost a one-third of the whole Burma Rohingya population of 1.1 million) is living in squalid camps with deplorable living conditions.
This significant forced migration of Rohinga civilians is in response to Rohingya insurgents launching attacks on the Burmese army.
Figures confirmed by the Myanmar army revealed that casualties total 400 deaths in clashes, which the military described as “clearance operations”. The Myanmar army, however, claims that the dead consisted largely of insurgents. The army also shifted responsibility over reports of villages being set on fire to the insurgents. Figures from the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar however suggested that over 1,000 have been killed in the crisis with a large majority of them being Rohingya.
The recent flurry of killings of Rohingya is a reincarnation of the past as some five years ago, where the UN had accused the Myanmar government of ethnic cleansing. Since then, the Rohingya population has fallen victim to persistent persecution. The Rohingya people are a minority in Myanmar, and are perceived by the Buddhist population as illegal immigrants underserving of citizenship.
This wave of agitation between the Rohingya people and the army had drawn worldwide condemnations with the indiscriminate killings instigating a humanitarian debacle closely watched by the international community. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has called on the UN to expedite remedial actions for the plagued Rohingya people urging a prompt cessation of the violence in Myanmar by a “strong and swift action” response from the UN.
The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, in the last UN Security Council meeting on peacekeeping reform, had reproached the authorities in Myanmar of an overtly exaggerated military reaction to insurgent attacks. In Mike Pence’s words, the army in Burma had reacted “with terrible savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes”. Mr. Pence urged the Burmese government to resolved the problems with peaceful solutions.
“President Trump and I also call on the Security Council of the United States to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end and bring hope and help to the Rohingya people in their hour of need,” he told the 15-member council.