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Saturday November 18, 2017 07:00 AM

HRW: Myanmar landmines deadly for fleeing Rohingya

HRW: Myanmar landmines deadly for fleeing Rohingya
File Photo: A Rohingya man carrying his belongings approaches the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban, an area under Cox's Bazar authority, Bangladesh, August 29, 2017 Reuters

According to witness accounts, independent reporting, and photo and video recordings, Myanmar soldiers have in recent weeks laid anti-personnel landmines at key crossing points on the country's border with Bangladesh

Myanmar security forces have laid landmines during attacks on villages and along the Bangladesh border – posing a grave risk to Rohingya Muslims fleeing atrocities, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a press release issued on Saturday.

HRW suggested that the Myanmar government immediately stops using anti-personnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said: “The dangers faced by thousands of Rohingya fleeing atrocities in Burma [Myanmar] are deadly enough without adding landmines to the mix.” She said Myanmar military needs to stop using these banned weapons “which kill and maim without distinction.”

According to witness accounts, independent reporting, and photo and video recordings, Myanmar soldiers have in recent weeks laid anti-personnel landmines at key crossing points on the country’s border with Bangladesh.

Witnesses told HRW that Myanmar military personnel also planted mines on roads inside northern Rakhine state prior to their attacks on mainly Rohingya villages. Myanmar government, in turn, has accused the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) of using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against infrastructure and security forces, HRW reported.

Two Rohingya refugees from inner areas of Rakhine state – one from Buthidaung and another from Rathedaung township – told HRW they saw the Myanmar military planting anti-personnel mines on roads as the military entered and attacked villagers.

Mohammad, 39, told HRW, he saw a neighbour’s son stepped on one of the mines laid by the military. The mine blew his right leg off.

HRW said that a landmine exploded on a path used by many refugees near the hamlets of Taung Pyo Let Yar – about 200 meters from the Bangladesh border – on September 4.

The rights organisation witnessed “smoke arising from the hamlets, suggesting burning by the military that caused villagers to flee.”

The next day, three Rohingya men were wounded in three separate landmine explosions near the same border point, HRW said.


Also Read – Landmine explosion kills 3 Rohingyas on Myanmar border


Since late August, Myanmar security forces, following a coordinated attack by ARSA militants, have carried out “a campaign of ethnic cleansing involving mass arson, killing, and other abuses against the Rohingya population” – causing the flight of more than 420,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh, the rights group further said.

HRW have also has called on members of the United Nations Security Council to hold a public meeting and adopt a resolution that condemns the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign and threatens to impose further measures, including targeted sanctions on military leaders and an arms embargo.

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