Burma, Monks 'Encouraging' Ethnic Cleansing: Report

125K Muslims displaced after last year's violence: Human Rights Watch
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2013 8:29 AM CDT
Burma, Monks 'Encouraging' Ethnic Cleansing: Report
In this Thursday, March 21, 2013 file photo, armed Myanmar police officers provide security around a smoldering building following ethnic unrest between Buddhists and Muslims.   (AP File Photo)

Burma and its Buddhist monks have "organized and encouraged" ethnic cleansing in the country, asserts Human Rights Watch in a new report. Some 125,000 of the country's minority Rohingya Muslims have been displaced, in what amounts to "crimes against humanity," per the report. It's the culmination of more than 100 interviews with those on either side of the upheaval that saw 180 people killed in Arakan state last year, CNN reports. "The absence of accountability against those to blame lends credence to allegations that this was a government-appointed campaign of ethnic cleansing," the group says.

"First the soldiers told us, 'Do not do anything, we will protect you, we will save you,' so we trusted them," said a survivor of last year's violence, in which Arakanese men attacked villages throughout the state. But security forces allowed attacks to occur and, in some cases, joined in or disarmed Rohingya. The report notes that the attacks were bolstered by local organizing, with area monks and ultra-nationalist political groups issuing pamphlets that actually included the phrase "ethnic cleansing." The Rohingya aren't eligible for citizenship in Burma, CNN notes. Buddhists have also been killed and displaced in the fighting, HRW adds. (More Burma stories.)

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