Rights Group Says Myanmar Authorities Aided Killings of Muslims

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BANGKOK, April 22 Authorities in Myanmars Rakhine State aided the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims last year in crimes against humanity that have sparked anti-Muslim violence elsewhere in the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.
Security forces were complicit in disarming Rohingya Muslimsof makeshift weapons and standing by, or even joining in, asRakhine Buddhist mobs killed men, women and children in June andOctober 2012, New York-based HRW said.

While the state security forces in some instancesintervened to prevent violence and protect fleeing Muslims, morefrequently they stood aside during attacks or directly supportedthe assailants, committing killings and other abuses, thereport said of the unrest, in which at least 110 people died.

The failure to investigate properly or punish stateofficials had emboldened those behind campaigns against Muslimselsewhere, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW,referring to violence in central Myanmar that killed more than43 people in March and displaced at least 12,000.

People are allowed to incite and instigate in a coordinatedcampaign this is the lesson taken in by others, Robertsontold Reuters. What happened in Arakan (Rakhine) has helpedspark radical anti-Muslim activity.

Myanmar government officials could not be reached forcomment on the report.

Human rights abuses still take place in fast-changingMyanmar despite widespread political, social and economic
reforms by a quasi-civilian government that took power in March2011 and convinced the West to suspend most sanctions to allowaid and investment into one of Asias poorest countries.

LOSING LEVERAGE

A decision expected on Monday by the European Union to liftall but its arms embargoes would only weaken the hand of Westernpowers seeking to clean up Myanmars poor human rights record,Robertson said.

Theyre going to be hostage to what the military andgovernment does, he said. Theyre not going to have the kindof leverage and capacity to push back on the government if itbecomes more oppressive.

The report into the Rakhine state violence, which called forinternational pressure on the government, said authorities hadblocked aid from going into the squalid camps occupied bystateless Rohingya and Kaman Muslims, exposing them tomalnourishment and diseases such as cholera or typhoid.

Robertson described the segregation of Muslims asghettoisation that left them vulnerable to abuse.

More than 120,000 people fled arson and machete attacks inRakhine state and thousands have embarked on perilous journeyson rickety wooden boats to other countries, where they are preyto human trafficking gangs.

An estimated 800,000 stateless Rohingyas live in Myanmar,where the authorities restrict their movements and access toemployment and consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The HRW report said more than 70 Rohingyas were killed inMrauk-U Townships Yan Thei village in October, among them 28children and infants who were hacked to death.(Reuters)

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