According to several reliable residents of Buthidaung Township in Arakan (or Rakhine) State, Myanmar, there are over 200,000 Rohingya seeking refuge in downtown Buthidaung, occupying houses, government buildings, a hospital, schools, and any available space.

Map of Rohingya people in Rakhine State. Wikimedia Commons

The Arakan Army (AA), made up of Buddhist Rakhine ethnonationalists, has issued a warning, demanding that they vacate the town by 10 AM on May 18, 2024, Saturday. Since its recent military victories over Myanmar junta troops in a strategic western Myanmar state where both China and India run multi-billionaire joint ventures with Myanmar state, the AA leadership has increasingly shown its anti-Rohingya racism: it has repeatedly violated Rohingyas’ right to self-identify as Rohingya, the group’s historical ethnic name while calling them “Bengali”, a derogatory label indicating the group don’t belong in Myanmar. Despite widespread International public and professional opinion, senior most AA leaders including Khaing Thuka and Twan Myat Naing have dismissed the allegations of genocide the group has suffered as “fake”.

In recent days, the AA has fired upon a school and a hospital where displaced Rohingya are sheltering, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths. Today, another attack on the school has left at least five dead and dozens injured.

There have been ongoing reports, yet to be thoroughly investigated, of the massacres where several dozen more Rohingya civilians have been killed by the AA in various locations.

In Gambia vs. Myanmar, a genocide case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared the Rohingya “a protected group” under the Genocide Convention, and ordered provisional measures as requested by Gambia, in January 2020, including the measure to protect the remaining population of 600,000 Rohingya in Western Myanmar. Despite the binding UN court’s order, both the Myanmar military (and the Arakan Army (AA), a non-state actor) are breaching the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Geneva Convention. The case is in the Merit Phase.

Rohingya residents in downtown Buthidaung assert that they will not relocate, even as the Arakan Army (AA) continues to shell them with artillery fire. They emphasize that there are no Myanmar military battalions present in the downtown area for the AA to seize. It is evident that the AA is attempting to forcibly displace Rohingya residents from downtown Buthidaung. This forced relocation must be halted.

The international community need to pay close attention the worsening conditions of the remaining Rohingya genocide survivors in Buthidaung, Maungdaw Townships, and beyond. Numerous unreported crimes have been committed against the Rohingya by both the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA).

Co-founder of FORSEA and Free Rohingya Coalion and the co-author of a groundbreaking study (2014)”The Slow-burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya“, Dr Maung Zarni says, “the Gambian Government and its legal team should consider urgently requesting the ICJ to issue urgent and additional measures to protect the Rohingya in Rakhine who increasingly face yet another wave of physical destruction being caught in the genocide triangle of Rakhine.”

Backgrounder:  Who are the Rohingya and what is happening in Myanmar? | Global development | The Guardian.

Nay San Lwin
Co-founder, Free Rohingya Coalition


Posted by Nay San Lwin

Nay San Lwin is a prominent Rohingya political activist from Myanmar. He is a prolific commentator on Rohingya issues on radio, television channels and other mainstream media outlets. He co-founded the Free Rohingya Coalition with Maung Zarni. Nay San Lwin was targeted, along with Maung Zarni, by Aye Ne Win, a businessman and grandson of Gen. Ne Win, who allegedly financed the genocide against ethnic groups in Myanmar.