(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Wars and conflicts have become countless humanitarian catastrophes in Myanmar. Rohingya is an ethnic group that is mainly based in Arakan in Myanmar and is classified by the United Nations as 'the most persecuted religious minority in the world.
The group represents a Muslim minority in a country where the majority is Buddhists. Myanmar has been persecuting them for a long time and denied their basic rights to worship, nationality, marriage and education. In 2012, tens of thousands of Rohingyas were driven away from their homes by the violence of extremist Buddhists. Many risked their lives fleeing through smugglers' boats, and more than 100,000 people live in miserable detention camps.
Human rights have warned that the situation in Myanmar is out of control and warned widespread violence between Muslims and Buddhists. The United States has called on the Myanmar authorities to avoid reactions that inflame tensions. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the Myanmar authorities should avoid a backlash that would fuel tensions, adding that recent attacks by the Rohingya Arakan Liberation Army on border centres showed that the Government of Myanmar must implement the recommendations contained in the international report issued by the committee appointed by Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi last year and chaired by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The committee urged the Government of Myanmar not to waste the social justice in Arakan State in order to put an end to violence between Muslims and Buddhists and to prevent extremism.
The Myanmar Human Rights Network also issued a warning that the army could react harshly against the Rohingya Liberation Army's action in a way that does not differentiate between an armed man and a civilian. It also said that without an international intervention, the situation in the Arakan region could spiral out of control and widespread violence between Muslims and Buddhists would erupt.
The authorities in Myanmar reported that gunmen from the Rohingya attacked 25 border posts in Arakan, killing 12 people, adding that the security forces carried out 'clean-up operations that killed 77 militants. The Rohingya Liberation Army said the attacks were in response to the persecution of Muslims in Arakan.
In the latest wave of violence targeting Rohingya Muslims in the western province of Arakan (Rakhine), some 90 people have been killed, this time the attack was carried out after police positions and an army base were attacked by gunmen, as confirmed by Myanmar authorities, adding that 24 police posts were the target of militants attacks. The army spoke of the deaths of 12 soldiers.
Media reports said that hundreds of Rohingya Muslims were trapped inside their area by their Buddhist neighbours in a village in western Myanmar, although violence has so far been largely confined to the northern Rohingya region of Bangladesh's neighbouring Rakhine State, many observers and aid workers are concerned that violence may erupt in the region.
Similar reports said that of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh to escape the new campaign launched by the Myanmar troops after the recent attacks, the fleeing of thousands of Muslims from Arakan at a time when the government sent reinforcements from the army and police backed by helicopters, pointing out that the United Nations confirmed that 87,000 Rohingyas fled Arakan during the cleanup carried out by the Myanmar forces last October.
During the previous security crackdowns in parts of Arakan, government forces killed hundreds of civilians and burned villages. According to local and international organisations, many Rohingyas live in miserable camps in this state, where many activists fear that this recent security crackdown on Rohingya Muslims will repeat the sectarian violence that erupted in Sakhui, capital of Rakhine State in 2012, in which nearly 200 people were killed and about 140,000 people, mostly Muslims, have been displaced to live in neighbouring countries in harsh camps and difficult conditions.
Despite that the Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar for centuries, their country's government considers them as stateless foreigners who came from Bangladesh and do not consider them to be an ethnic race in the country, making them vulnerable to persecution, racial discrimination and abuse.
In the Myanmar, Muslims do not have the right to own their houses and lands, or to do business. The governments confiscate their lands, properties and the boats they use for hunting without reasons. They also prevent them from developing their agricultural projects, and deprive them from jobs. Muslim families are prevented from raising more than two children, among other restrictions.
Prior to the current violence, a committee led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a series of recommendations to Suu Kyi on how the government responded to tensions, according to the report, the situation of Muslims in the Rakhine region reflects a severe human rights crisis due to the lack of access to any nationality and the severe discrimination they face. 'The Myanmar government should reconsider the link between citizenship and ethnicity, Annan said. 'There is no time to lose. The situation in Arakan has become more dangerous.
Annan called the Government of Myanmar to abandon 'excessive force in dealing with the crisis of the Rohingya Muslims in the province of Arakan and monitoring the performance of the security forces as one of the fundamentals of resolving the crisis.
According to the fact-finding committee, consisting of nine members, including three foreigners, 10% of the stateless people live in Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslims constitute the world's largest group of stateless persons.
Over the past five years, some 120,000 Rohingya Muslims have been held in displacement camps, with no right to leave without permission or access to basic services such as healthcare and education.
A UN report on human rights violations committed by security forces there documented acts of mass rape, killings involving children and practices of brutal beating and disappearance of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Representatives of the Rohingyas say that some 400 people have died during the operation. The United Nations Secretariat has charged the Myanmar authorities with the responsibility to protect all people in the country.
The issue of Rohingya Muslims became the most controversial human rights issue in Myanmar with the Buddhism majority, in a transitional period followed a military ruling that lasted decades.
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