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UNION OF MYANMAR: New landmine blasts point to deliberate targeting of Rohingya

13 Sep 2017
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Indigenous people Minority group

Two new landmine incidents today, including a blast blowing off a young man’s leg, bring to three the number of known sites where Myanmar authorities have mined border crossings used by Rohingya fleeing violence, Amnesty International said.

A Bangladeshi farmer in his early 20s stepped on a landmine near the Bangladeshi village of Baish Bari this morning. Witnesses told the organization of a Rohingya man being rushed to medical treatment.
Earlier a separate landmine blast near the Bangladeshi village Amtali, another known border crossing point.

“This offers further evidence that this is not a problem that is going away on its own. Myanmar’s authorities must immediately end this abhorrent practice and allow demining teams to access its border areas.”

The new blasts took place along a border where the United Nations estimates 290,000 Rohingya fleeing violence have crossed in the past two weeks.

On 8 September, Amnesty International confirmed that the Myanmar security forces had planted mines along the northern part of its border with Bangladesh where many Rohingya fleeing violence pass through. Some of the mines have been found near Taung Pyo Let Wal (also known as Tumbro) in Myanmar’s Rakhine State on the edge of the border with Bangladesh. Many have fled the area to a makeshift refugee camp inside Bangladesh, but make frequent trips back across the border to bring supplies or to help others to cross. At least three people, including two children, were seriously injured, with all blasts taking place along heavily travelled roads.

The Myanmar Army is one of only a handful of state forces worldwide, along with North Korea, to openly use antipersonnel landmines in recent years. The weapons were banned by an international treaty in 1997.

The Myanmar military’s callous use of inherently indiscriminate and deadly weapons at highly trafficked paths around the border is putting the lives of ordinary people at enormous risk.

Earlier last week, however, the spokesperson for Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, dismissed media reports that the army was planting landmines.

“The Myanmar authorities should stop issuing blanket denials. All the evidence suggests that its own security forces are planting landmines that are not only unlawful, but that are already maiming ordinary people,” said Tirana Hassan.

“UN experts must also be allowed to investigate the widespread and systematic violations that have taken place in Rakhine State, including Myanmar’s use of banned landmines. Those responsible should be held to account.”

10 September 2017

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