World Bulletin / News Desk
A human rights group expressed concern for the safety of thousands of Muslims on Saturday after revealing satellite images of a once-thriving coastal community reduced to ashes during a week of violence in western Myanmar.
The images released by the New York-based Human Rights Watch show "near total destruction" of a predominantly Rohingya Muslim part of Kyaukpyu, one of several areas in Rakhine state where attacks happened.
More than 811 buildings and houseboats were razed in Kyaukpyu on Oct. 24, forcing many Rohingya to flee north by sea toward the state capital Sittwe, said Human Rights Watch.
"Burma's government urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Arakan (Rakhine) State, who are under vicious attack," said Phil Robertson, the group's deputy Asia director.
There were widespread unconfirmed reports of boatloads of Rohingyas trying to cross the sea border to neighbouring Bangladesh, which has denied them refugee status since 1992.
Dozens of boats full of Rohingyas with no food or water had fled Kyaukpyu, an industrial zone important to China, and other recent hotspots were seeking access on Friday to overcrowded refugee camps around the state capital Sittwe, according to four Rohingya refugee sources.
Some boats were blocked by security forces from reaching the shore and few Rohingyas managed to reach the camps, the sources said by telephone.
Wan-lark foundation, an organisation that has been assisting Rakhine Buddhist refugees, said no clashes in the state had been reported to them since Friday night, but dead bodies of Rakhines had been found.
"Around 6pm last night in Kyawtyaw, the bodies of 16 Rakhines were found in the sea. They had died during the attacks on Thursday. We're looking for more bodies," representative Tun Mein Thein said on Saturday.
A Rakhine government spokesman put the death toll at 112 as of Friday. But within hours state media revised it to 67 killed from Oct. 21 to 25, with 95 wounded and nearly 3,000 houses destroyed.
The death toll could be far higher, said Human Rights Watch, citing "allegations from witnesses fleeing scenes of carnage and the government's well-documented history of underestimating figures that might lead to criticism of the state."
The clashes come just five months after communal unrest killed more than 80 people and displaced at least 75,000 in the same region.
A boat carrying 120 Muslims from Kyaukpyu was intercepted by Rakhines, who killed the men and raped the women, the advocacy group Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK said in a statement. This claim could not be verified.
"Ethnic cleansing is happening under the noses of the international community and they are doing nothing," said Tun Khin, the group's president. "We have confirmed reports that hundreds of people have been killed and the government must be aware of that."
Kyaukpyu is crucial to China's most strategic investment in Myanmar: twin pipelines that will carry oil and natural gas through the town on the Bay of Bengal to China's energy-hungry western provinces.
The United Nations has warned that Myanmar's fledgling democracy could be "irreparably damaged" by the violence.
It was unclear what set off the latest arson and killing that started on Sunday. In June, tension flared after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman that was blamed on Muslims, but there was no obvious spark this time.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International have called on Myanmar to amend or repeal a 1982 citizenship law to end the Rohingyas' stateless condition.
Rohingyas are officially stateless. Buddhist-majority Myanmar's government regards the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in the country as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and not as one of the country's 135 official ethnic groups, and denies them citizenship.
But many of those expelled from Kyaukpyu are not Rohingya but Muslims from the officially recognised Kaman minority, said Chris Lewa, director of the Rohingya advocacy group, Arakan Project. "It's not just anti-Rohingya violence anymore, it's anti-Muslim," she said.
Thousands of Muslims took part in the Akheri Munajat, the final prayers at the World Muslim Congregation Biswa Ijtema
Rights groups, lawyers question decision to grant bail to trio accused of sectarian killing
There is "no point in blaming economic globalisation for the world's problems", he said, saying that the process was not at the root of the Syrian refugee situation or the 2008 financial crisis.
The island's armed forces gathered in central Taiwan for annual drills that saw troops practise combat skills with tanks, attack helicopters and artillery.
Here are the key dates in the disappearance of the plane and its 239 passengers and crew.
Aunt, niece at center of presidential office corruption allegations appear in court together for first time
Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia's staunchest China allies, with Beijing rewarding the government of strongman premier Hun Sen with lucrative business and defence deals.
Investigators have so far confirmed that three pieces of debris washed up and recovered on western Indian Ocean shorelines came from MH370.
Among the convicts are members of an elite police unit, including 3 ex-military officers
Turkish ambassador invites Turkish businesspeople to invest in food in Malaysia
The incident took place earlier today after gunmen riding motorcycle opened fire on Abdul Safa Sanayi, the acting provincial chief of the Sectoral Department.
In 2015, Akon Guode, 37, who came to Australia after fleeing war in South Sudan, drove into the water on the outskirts of Melbourne.
In a statement, prosecutors investigating the scandal said they asked a Seoul court to issue an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-Yong, the son of the Samsung group chairman Lee Kun-Hee.
Rajesh Kalia said troops cordoned off the village near the tourist resort of Pahalgam after receiving a tip that fighters were hiding out in a private home there.
The Philippines' longtime ally, the United States, has led international criticism of the killings, with outgoing President Barack Obama urging Duterte to prosecute his war "the right way".
Philippines' president pledges to promote maritime security and rule of law amid dispute with Beijing over South China Sea