Burma: Rohingya Muslim babies and children 'being slaughtered with knives', UN warns
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Babies and children have been slaughtered with knives during a military campaign on Rohingya Muslims in Burma, according to a series of accounts in a disturbing UN report.
An eight-month-old, a five-year-old and a six-year-old were all reportedly stabbed to death in their own homes during so-called “area clearance operations” by Burmese security services, which are reported to have killed hundreds of people since 9 October, in a Rohingya-dominated area in northwest Rakhine State.
The chilling accounts, described by the UN as “revolting”, are outlined in a flash report from the United Nations Human Rights office. The report, which has been released early because of its alarming nature, is based on interviews with more than 200 Rohingya refugees who have recently entered Bangladesh after fleeing from violence they faced in Rakhine.
One mother recounted in the reporthow her five-year-old daughter was trying to protect her from rape when a man “took out a long knife and killed her by slitting her throat”, while in another case an eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five security officers.
A 14-year-old girl also told of how, after being raped by soldiers, she saw her mother beaten to death and her two sisters
, aged eight and 10, killed with knives.
The Burmese Government has repeatedly denied allegations of persecution against the Rohingya minority, rejecting any evidence as “propaganda” and arguing that police beatings were ordinary in many countries.
During the crackdown in Rakhine, armed members of Burma’s security services are said to have rounded up Rohingya men and taken them away in vehicles, before then going from house to house gang-raping or sexually harassing women, and sometimes killing children who cried or tried to protect their mothers.
In another case, recounted by a number of refugees in separate interviews, the army of Rakhine villagers locked an entire family, including elderly and disabled people, inside a house and set it on fire, killing them all.
Many witnesses and victims also described being taunted while they were being beaten, raped or rounded up, such as being told “you are Bangladeshis and you should go back” or “what can your Allah do for you? See what we can do?”
Other attacks against Rohingya Muslims by Burma’s security services include brutal beatings and disappearances. The vast majority of those interviewed said they had witnessed killings, and almost half reported having a family member who was killed, as well as family members who were missing.
More than half of the 101 women interviewed said they had been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Linnea Arvidsson, one of the four UN workers who interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and drew up the report, told The Independent she had never encountered such a “shocking” situation.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the “devastating cruelty” against Rohingya children as “unbearable”, saying the allegations of babies being stabbed “beg” a reaction from the international community.
“The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk,” he said.
“And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her – what kind of ‘clearance operation’ is this? What national security goals could possibly be served by this?
“I call on the international community, with all its strength, to join me in urging the leadership in Myanmar to bring such military operations to an end. The gravity and scale of these allegations begs the robust reaction of the international community.”
Mr al-Hussein also urged the authorities in Burma to bring an immediate end to the “grave human rights violations” against its people, saying: “The Government of Myanmar must immediately halt these grave human rights violations against its own people, instead of continuing to deny they have occurred, and accepts the responsibility to ensure that victims have access to justice, reparations and safety.”
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