The military has said nearly 400 people, most of them alleged insurgents, have died in the recent violence and accused the militants of “terrorist” atrocities against non-Muslim civilians as well as burning down their own villages.
However, Rohingya people and rights groups accuse the army of a brutal campaign of reprisals against civilians, with one UN official last year suggesting that “crimes against humanity” had occurred.
The violence has triggered a flood of Muslim Rohingya refugees from the predominantly Buddhist country. The UNHCR on Monday said 87,000 people had fled into neighboring Bangladesh since Aug. 25. Aid agencies say that some had suffered bullet wounds.
Some Rohingya have alleged atrocities including children being beheaded and a group of men forced into a bamboo hut before being burned alive. International media and independent observers are barred from the area and NBC News has not been able to verify such accounts.
….Satellite imagery analyzed by Human Rights Watch shows hundreds of buildings have been destroyed in at least 17 sites across Rakhine state since Aug. 25, including some 700 structures that appeared to have been burned down in just the village of Chein Khar Li, the organization said in a statement issued Saturday.
The government blames the insurgents for burning their own homes and killing non-Muslims in Rakhine. Longstanding tension between the Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rahkine Buddhists erupted in bloody rioting in 2012, forcing more than 140,000 Rohingya into displacement camps, where around 100,000 still remain.
…[The] government regards most Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.
…While the human-rights icon has previously been accused of remaining “silent” when it comes to abuses against the Rohingya — who are largely denied citizenship or freedom of movement by Suu Kyi’s government — statements and graphic images that have been published by the State Counsellor’s Information Committee are now facing scrutiny.
Suu Kyi rarely speaks in public so that body is often the only guide the public has to her opinion on key issues.
Some of the social media posts by the information committee were accused of promoting hate speech — including the use of the term “extremist Bengali terrorism,” which is considered inflammatory. Others attempted to link international aid groups to terrorism.
Zeid Raad Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, described statements from the information committee as “highly irresponsible” saying they would “only increase fears and potential for further violence.”