Human Rights Watch on Saturday confirmed the Bangladeshi officials’ allegations that security forces of Myanmar were laying landmines alongside the border to hinder and prevent Rohingya Muslim refugees from fleeing the Rakhine state, Geo News reported.
Latest reports suggest that Rohingya refugees are now at a higher risk of being killed as they attempt to flee the mass genocide being carried out in Myanmar, facing bullets and landmines along their way outside the country.
Noor Karim — a Rohingya refugee — says he managed to escape firing by Myanmar forces but was somehow separated from his wife and children at some point on the way.
“I have not heard of any Rohingya crossing the border in the past five days. All I could see is people concentrating near the main camps,” Farid Alam — a Rohingya leader — said.
Rohingya community leaders noted that most of the Rakhine villages near the Bangladesh border are now deserted.
“Almost all the people I know have arrived in Bangladesh,” Yusuf Majihi — another Rohingya leader at a camp at Balukhali near Cox’s Bazar — told AFP.
“Village after village has become empty due to the attacks by Myanmar soldiers and torching of the houses by Moghs (Buddhists),” he stated, adding that “those who are left in Rakhine live far off the border”.
Amnesty International said new videos and satellite imagery indicated fires were still raging through Rohingya villages, scores of which have already been burned to the ground.
‘Clearance operations’ ceased
Amnesty also accused the military of starting fires in the region to prevent refugees from returning despite the Myanmar army chief placing the blame for an explosion outside a mosque in Rakhine on Rohingya militants.
Min Aung Hlaing — the Myanmar commander-in-chief — issued a statement saying Rohingya militants planted a “home-made mine” that exploded in between a mosque and madrasa in Buthidaung township on Friday.
Hlaing went on to accuse militants of trying to drive out around 700 remaining villagers.
Aung San Suu Kyi — the much-criticised de facto leader of Myanmar — said this week that troops had ceased “clearance operations” targeting Rohingya militants in Myanmar’s border area.
Analysts, however, highlighted that the militants’ influence depends on the networks they have built across Rohingya communities.
The United Nations previously said the military crackdown could amount to “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. But despite the calm on the border, there were new signs of unrest in Myanmar.
According to government figures, nearly 40 percent of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine have been abandoned over the past month.
A number of Rohingya, including children, have been killed by mines at the border.
India and its role
Yet another Rohingya leader commented on how almost 40,000 refugees — currently present in India — are at a risk of expulsion, following the fresh series of attacks.
Indian forces are allegedly also hindering the passage with the use of stun guns and chilli pellets and mines in order to halt the overflowing number of Rohingya refugees trying to escape the brutal situation back home.
India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using “chilli and stun grenades” to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in their homeland, officials said on Friday.
Border forces in the Hindu-majority India — that wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks — have been authorized to use “rude and crude” methods to stop any infiltration attempts.
“We don’t want to cause any serious injury or arrest them, but we won’t tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil,” a senior official with the Border Security Force (BSF) in New Delhi said.
“We’re using grenades containing chilli spray to stop hundreds of Rohingyas trying to enter India… the situation is tense,” the official — who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media — added.
R.P.S. Jaswal — a deputy inspector general of the BSF patrolling a large part of the border in India’s eastern state of West Bengal — said his troops were told to use both chilli grenades and stun grenades to push back the Rohingya.
A chilli grenade makes use of a naturally-occurring compound in chilli powder to cause severe irritation and temporarily immobilize its target.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is growing increasingly hostile towards the Rohingya in India, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling on Thursday for their deportation as illegal migrants.
Most of the peace-loving refugees had no link to criminal activity, two Rohingya men protesting against the deportation move told India’s top court on Friday.
More than 270 Rohingya have been in Indian jails since 2014.
“Our investigations have revealed that Al Qaeda wants to use India and Bangladesh as their base to start a religious war against Myanmar,” said New Delhi police official Pramod Singh Khuswah.
“Clearly they are a threat to our security.”