In August and September alone, at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims are believed to have been killed by Burma’s security forces.
Doctors Without Borders surveyed people in refugee camps in Bangladesh to gather the figures, estimating that at least 9,000 people died in Rakhine state between August 25 and September 24 – with the 6.700 figure directly because of the violence.
Over 600,000 refugees have fled to Bangldesh to escape what the UN has described as ‘ethnic cleansing’.
The Rohingya people, who are Muslim, are a minority in mostly Buddhist Myanmar, formally known as Burma.
MSF (the French acronym for Doctors Without Borders) said the dead included at least 730 children younger than five.
The estimate of the number of deaths compares to the Burmese government figure of 400 in September, as a result of attacks on police posts by Rohingya militants.
Burma’s Information Ministry had said most of the 400 dead were ‘extremist terrorists’ who died during the military’s ‘clearance operations’.
Girl captured moment friend was hit by a train while posing for a selfieInternational aid and rights groups have accused the military of arson, killings and rapes of Rohingya villagers. Burmese authorities blamed Rohingya militants for the violence.
Though more than a million ethnic Rohingya Muslims have lived in the country for generations, they were stripped of their citizenship, denied almost all rights and labelled stateless.
‘The peak in deaths coincides with the launch of the latest ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar (Burma) security forces in the last week of August,’ said MSF medical director Sidney Wong.
She said the findings were staggering, in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member dead as a result of violence and horrific ways in which they said they were killed or injured.
MSF said more than 59% of children below the age of five who were killed were reportedly shot, 15% burnt to death in their homes, 7% were beaten to death and 2% died in land mine blasts.
Since the Burmese military conducted operations against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state, the civilian government has barred most journalists, international observers and humanitarian aid workers from travelling independently to the region.
MSF said the numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation ‘as we have not surveyed all refugee resettlements in Bangladesh because the surveys don’t account for the families who never made it out of Burma’.
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