Published: Tue, August 29, 2017
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims head for border as Burma army opens fire

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims head for border as Burma army opens fire

A wave of Rohingya Muslim families fleeing violence in Myanmar seeking to cross the border into Bangladesh on Monday were turned back.

Police fought off groups of as many as 100 Rohingya attackers armed with guns, machetes and homemade grenades.

During Sunday prayers, the pontiff expressed solidarity with Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya Muslim community, calling for them to have "full rights".

The Myanmar government says the death toll from violence due to coordinated attacks by Rohingya guerrillas has risen to 98 people, with 80 militants and 12 members of the security forces.

The following year, hundreds of people, a lot of them Rohingya, were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine state and about 140,000 people were displaced.

Another 20 Rohingya were caught on Sunday and sent back after crossing the Naf river, a natural border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, according to Ariful Islam, a commander with Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

It pointed towards the "extreme discrimination" towards the group, as well as the erosion of rights in relation to obtaining citizenship documents and the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya before the 2015 general election. "We helped them enter through several points but are sending them to Kutupalong", said Mia, referring to another camp.

Almost 100 thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past year, though the Bangladeshi government has yet to recognize the refugee status of the displaced minority.

The government refuses to recognize Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority, calling them Bengalis to reflect the position that they are mostly illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

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Khatun told The Associated Press that she left behind her entire family along the border in Myanmar after she lost track of her whereabouts on Friday night.

Thousands of Rohingya have tried to flee into Bangladesh, but Bangladeshi border guards are reportedly turning them back.

The treatment of approximately 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya in mainly Buddhist Myanmar has emerged as the biggest challenge for national leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi interlopers and Bangladesh says they're Burmese.

The Myanmar army has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings in the restive Rakhine region, with residents and activists accusing soldiers of shooting indiscriminately at unarmed Rohingya men, women and children and carrying out arson attacks.

An Islamist group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which Myanmar has declared a terrorist organisation, claimed responsibility for the Friday attacks. Arsa took advantage of the resentment by stepping up recruitment of members.

"It's burning, burning, people fleeing", she said adding she had just received reports that 14 Rohingya in one village had been killed, but as with all allegations from the cut-off area, these deaths and arson allegation were hard to verify.

Such attacks deserve to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

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