Rohingya refugees tell Arab News of rape by Myanmar Army

Rohingya Muslim refugees wait as food is distributed by the Bangladeshi Army at Balukhali refugee camp near Gumdhum on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2017
0

Rohingya refugees tell Arab News of rape by Myanmar Army

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: In the past week alone, nearly 15,000 Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in the Teknaf and Kutupalang Thana areas of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, increasing the total number of refugees to 440,000.
They say grave human rights violations have been committed by the Myanmar Army against the Muslim minority, including rape.
Though the exact number of rape victims is unknown, officials at a makeshift clinic told Arab News that they have so far treated 100 Rohingya women in Cox’s Bazar alone. It is very difficult for rape victims to speak out due to social and religious taboos, officials added.
“The army attacked our house, and took me and my sister to a nearby army camp,” Saleha Khatun, a 23-year-old Rohingya refugee in Kutupalang camp in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.
“There were 23 other girls imprisoned in that camp. I was brutally raped for three days in a row. “Even death is preferable over this dishonor,” she said, weeping.
“Both of us sisters were kept imprisoned in the camp and were treated like slaves. They didn’t allow us to put on any clothes during these three days. Tied up naked to the bed, the army started raping us in a group. It was worse than hell.”
Asma Begum, 19, who used to live in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, told Arab News: “We were preparing to move out and cross the border into Bangladesh. At around 11 a.m., the army entered our house. They tied my husband to a pillar and threw two of my babies out of the house. Five of the soldiers raped me, one after another, in front of my husband. Later they tried to kill my husband. I begged for our lives, and got mercy on condition that we leave the house instantly.”
Mukti Biswas, a psychologist with Gonoshastho Kendro, a local NGO treating refugees at Ukhia, Teknaf and Bandarban camps, told Arab News: “These abused Rohingya women are now suffering from acute depression and trauma. We need to address the mental health issue immediately. In some cases, they aren’t prepared to discuss their traumatic experiences. We’re treating them by observing the symptoms and offering free medicines. Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable. We need more doctors and psychiatrists to treat this huge number of refugees.”
Bangladesh’s government has deployed more doctors and medical assistants in the last couple of days to provide primary health care to the refugees. A total of 30 doctors, almost 30 health assistants and 42 nurses are now working in camps.
In emergency cases, patients are referred to the nearest state-run hospital, where authorities have launched special units for the Rohingya. Twenty additional doctors have been deployed in Cox’s Bazar’s general hospitals.
Medicins Sans Frontieres, Gonoshastho Kendro, the Red Cross, Action Against Hunger, and other local and international NGOs are also providing free health care.
“Bangladesh will allow in all Rohingya refugees as long as they come here and seek refuge,” Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Kamal said Tuesday.


Despite summit, North Korea still a nuclear threat, says Trump

US President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 June 2018
0

Despite summit, North Korea still a nuclear threat, says Trump

  • The US and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, to support diplomatic negotiations with North Korea
  • At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday cited “an unusual and extraordinary threat” from North Korea’s nuclear arsenal to extend sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s regime, despite touting the success of a historic summit earlier this month.
After flying back to Washington last week, boasting of success, the US leader tweeted: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
“Sleep well tonight!” he added on June 13, a day after the Singapore meeting.
But a presidential declaration sent to Congress on Friday struck a different note as it explained why the administration would keep in place tough economic restrictions first imposed by former president George W. Bush.
“The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the Government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” it said.
“I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to North Korea,” added the statement.
Though the notice is considered pro forma, the disparity in tone reflects the work that US officials concede remains to be done as negotiators thrash out the details of Pyongyang’s disarmament.
At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a stock phrase favored by Pyongyang that stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a “verifiable” and “irreversible” way.
Critics have pointed to the vague wording of the non-binding summit document and raised fears that the summit could weaken the international coalition against the North’s nuclear program.

Also Friday, the US and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, to support diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, the Pentagon said.
The move came after the two countries had previously announced the shelving of the large-scale Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises slated for August, making good on a pledge by Trump during his summit.
The decision followed a meeting between Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
“To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.
Two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months have now been shelved.
US and South Korean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even “decapitation” strikes targeting the North Korean regime.
Pyongyang typically reacts furiously. Following drills last year, the North fired ballistic missiles over Japan, triggering global alarm.