Rohingya Muslims are warning that unless the international community takes a firm stance against the violence in Myanmar, the country could witness “ethnic cleansing on the scale of the Srebrenica massacre”.
More than 22 years after 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops in the UN “safe haven” of Srebrenica, separate Rohingya sources have told Al Jazeera that at least 1,000 of the persecuted Muslim minority, including scores of women and children, have been killed over the past two weeks.
Myanmar’s security forces says they have killed at least 370 Rohingya “fighters” since the latest round of violence in Rakhine state began on August 25.
The violence has sent more than 164,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to UN estimates.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned of the risk of ethnic cleansing, appealing to Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s security forces to end the violence.
Two sources told Al Jazeera on Thursday that several people had been shot dead near the Maungdow township in Rakhine, with thick plumes of smoke seen billowing from the village of Godu Thara after security forces burned down the homes of fleeing Rohingya.
The sources said that in other villages affected by the violence, community leaders had been unable to offer Islamic burials after imams had fled into the forest.
Access to the area has been blocked to foreign media so Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the sources’ accounts.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Maungdow township under a pseudonym, Anwar, 25, said there was a “sustained and targeted military campaign against Muslims”.
“The Myanmar army and Buddhist extremists are specifically targeting the Muslim population,” he said.
“Women, children, the elderly – no one has been spared. The situation is continuing to get worse and Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is failing to raise its voice,” Anwar added.
Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner of Myanmar’s military rulers, has so far not spoken publicly about the plight of the fleeing Rohingya.
Speaking for the first time on the issue on Wednesday, she said her government is doing its best to protect everyone in Rakhine and blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on the strife in the state.
But her silence has drawn sharp criticism from rights groups, activists and some politicians.
“Unless the international community acts, and stops giving our plight lip service, we will witness another genocide – our time is running out,” Anwar said.-AlJazeera
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