Presented by Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch
In June 2012, deadly sectarian violence erupted in western Burma's Arakan State between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. Rohingya and Arakan mobs attacked unsuspecting villages, killed an undetermined number of people, and destroyed homes, shops, and houses of worship. Over 100,000 people were displaced. Human Rights Watch invested and will be launching a new report, "The Government Could Have Stopped This": Sectarian Violence and Abuses in Burma's Arakan State. Based on interviews with members of both the Arakan and Rohingya communities in Arakan state, and others in Burma and Bangladesh, the report describes how the Burmese authorities failed to protect ethnic communities, instead standing by as violence unfolded. While the Burma army eventually stepped in to stop the mob violence, state security forces and local Arakan communities worked together to target Rohingya communities, committing killings, rapes, and mass arrests. Humanitarian access to affected populations remains severely hampered by government restrictions, arrests of aid workers, and threats and intimidation from local Arakan residents. Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh have been pushed back to sea by Bangladesh authorities in barely seaworthy boats and during rough monsoon rains.
The violence against Rohingya comes against a backdrop of decades of official discrimination and persecution. Burma's president, Thein Sein, has recently increased tensions since the violence by advocating the expulsion of all Rohingya from Burma.
Come hear a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Arakan state, and Human Rights Watch's detailed recommendations for the governments of Burma and Bangladesh, UN agencies, and international donors and development partners engaged in Arakan state.
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