AKIPRESS.COM - Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims in recent months, which has uprooted a half-million people and been condemned by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing, has been corroborated by many graphic accounts of killings, sexual violence and other atrocities, New York Timesreported.
But a report on the Rohingya released early Thursday by Human Rights Watch, which focused on sexual violence, said that the raping of women and girls appeared to be even more widespread and systematic than earlier suspected, and that uniformed members of Myanmar’s military were responsible for it.
The report was based on interviews with 52 Rohingya women and girls who had fled to neighboring Bangladesh, including 29 survivors of rape from 19 different villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Human Rights Watch said the report’s conclusions also drew from interviews with 17 representatives of humanitarian organizations providing health services to Rohingya women and girls in Bangladesh refugee camps, as well as Bangladeshi health officials.
It found that Myanmar security forces had “raped and sexually assaulted women and girls both during major attacks on villages but also in the weeks prior to these major attacks sometimes after repeated harassment.”
In every case, the report said, “the perpetrators were uniformed members of security forces, almost all military personnel.”
While Human Rights Watch did not estimate the number of rapes, it said that dozens and “sometimes hundreds of cases” had been reported by aid groups working with refugees in the camps, and that they “likely only represent a proportion” of the total.