Myanmar police kill 8 protesters in Rakhine State

Georgia Reed
January 20, 2018

The Rohingya crisis erupted after Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts on August 25 in the western state of Rakhine triggered a fierce military response that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.

Tun Ther Sein, regional MP from Mrauk U, said some of the critically injured protesters were taken to the state capital of Sittwe, a three-hour drive south of the ancient town studded with Buddhist temples. "It's not forgivable that they used guns", Mrauk U lawmaker Oo Hla Saw of the Arakan National Party said, confirming the death toll and labelling the police action "a crime".

"Where are considerations for protection of the Rohingya from Myanmar security forces who months ago were raping and killing them?" said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the group's Asia Division.

"Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands".

"There was fear that the situation would be misrepresented on social media, which has led to subsequent incidents in the past due to delays on the release of official information". "The conflict happened when some people tried to seize guns from the police", he said.

Though Burma's army claimed it was a clearance operation against the terrorists, the United Nations, United States and others have said the operations were "ethnic cleansing" to remove the Rohingya from the country, also known as Myanmar.

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Tensions have flared over the government's handling of ethnic violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in recent years.

The current Rohingya exodus began when Myanmar's security forces launched a campaign in late August in response to the Rohingya rebels' attacks on security posts in Rakhine, home to an estimated one million members of the Muslim minority not recognized by the Myanmar authorities.

An estimated 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to avoid communal violence with local Rakhine communities and military operations prior to October 2016.

Bangladesh says it has agreed on a timeframe with Myanmar for repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled an army crackdown past year.

Aye Maung could not be reached for comment by Frontier on Wednesday.

Reported by Min Thein Aung, Waiyan Moe Myint, Tin Aung Khine, Thinn Thiri, and Thiri Min Zin for RFA's Myanmar Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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