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Myanmar’s dangerous ploy against Rohingya
After violently driving out nearly 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh since August 25, Myanmar’s ethnic Rakhine state is now seeking a Muslim-free “buffer zone” and this is a dangerous trend that needs to be addressed by the world community.

As per reports, Buddhist flags hang from bamboo poles at the entrance to Koe Tan Kauk, a “model” village for ethnic Rakhine migrants shuttled north to re-populate an area once dominated by Rohingya Muslims.

Funded by ethnic Rakhine donors, the Ancillary Committee for the Reconstruction of Rakhine National Territory in the Western Frontier (CRR), a private scheme established shortly after the refugee crisis began, is aiming to establish a “Muslim-dry” buffer zone running the nearly 100 kilometres from state capital Sittwe to Maungdaw town.

The new arrivals are moving to parts of Rakhine state mostly cleared of its Rohingya residents, whose villages were bulldozed and reduced to muddy stains on a landscape of lush farmland.

The new Rakhine migrants carry great expectations as the pioneers of a donor-led “Rakhinisation” plan to upend the demography of the once majority-Muslim area.

Many traumatised Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar camps are refusing to be repatriated to Rakhine and their fears are justified. They know well that hostile neighbours await them.

After creating such a fear complex in the victims’ minds, Myanmar is trying to misuse the situation to its advantage.

In the absence of Rohingya Muslims, a blizzard of development projects, government and army-sponsored or privately funded, are transforming northern Rakhine.

Such actions are absolutely unfair and inhuman.

The majority of the Rohingya want to return to Myanmar, but only when they can do so in safety, dignity and with access to their basic rights.

The UN has branded the military crackdown ethnic cleansing that carries all the hallmarks of genocide.

“Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are,” as Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, points out.

The truth is that while the government of Myanmar is repeatedly trying to fool the international community by stating it is ready to receive Rohingya returnees, its forces are continuing to drive them away into Bangladesh.

It is sad that the international community has buried its head in the sand and failed to save the Rohingya from losing their lives, dignity and homes.

At least now, the world should wake up.

Myanmar should be held accountable for its misdeeds. The Rohingya deserve justice.

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