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Report denounces Myanmar attacks on Rohingya
Amnesty denounces security forces and local Buddhists for state-sponsored attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2012 00:35
Al Jazeera's Nicholas Haque filed this exclusive report from the Bangladesh-Myanmar border

Human Rights group Amnesty International has accused security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of carrying out fresh, targeted attacks against Rohingya, the Muslim minority group in Myanmar.

Violence in the last six weeks has been "primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingya specifically the targets and victims,'' Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty, said on Friday.

"Some of this is by the security forces' own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists with the security forces turning a blind eye in some cases,'' he said.

The violence, which reached its bloodiest point in June, constituted some of the country's deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years and raised international concerns about the Rohingya's fate inside Myanmar.

Following a series of isolated killings starting in late May that left victims on both sides, bloody skirmishes quickly spread across much of Myanmar's coastal Rakhine state.

The government declared a state of emergency on June 10, deploying troops to quell the unrest and protect both mosques and monasteries.

The worst of the violence subsided two weeks later, and authorities said at least 78 people were killed and thousands of homes were burned down or destroyed, with damages roughly split evenly between Buddhists and Muslims.

Refugee problem

Thein Sein, Myanmar's president, said earlier this month that the solution to ethnic enmity in Rakhine state was to either send the Rohingya to a third country or have the United Nations refugee agency look after them.

UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said, however, that it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingya.

One month after sectarian violence swept across northwestern Myanmar, Rohingya refugees are now fleeing to Bangladesh by the boatload, in a bid to escape the violence. 

Despite their plight, Bangladesh is stepping up its efforts to stop refugees from crossing over.

Amnesty called on Myanmar to accept the Rohingya as citizens, something the government has staunchly opposed because it does not consider them an ethnic group native to Myanmar.

"Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless,'' Amnesty's Zawacki said.

"For too long Myanmar's human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingya and a host of discriminatory practices against them.''

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