Myanmar plants mines at Bangladesh border: Rights group


Amnesty International Indonesia said on Saturday that the Myanmar military has planted deadly mines on its border with Bangladesh to prevent the return of Rohingya refugees.

"The disclosure of the use of deadly mines by the Myanmar military on the borders of Rakhine [state] and Bangladesh has confirmed the initial allegations that there have been serious human rights abuses in Myanmar," the rights group said in a statement.

The findings are based on an investigation conducted by Amnesty International's crisis response team, which is currently collecting evidence related to human rights violation at the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Rohingya described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Fresh violence erupted in Rakhine state nearly two weeks ago when security forces launched an operation against the Rohingya.

Bangladesh, which already hosted around 400,000 Rohingya refugees, has faced a fresh influx of refugees since the security operation was launched.

According to the UN, 270,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh as of Friday.

Tirana Hassan, director of the group's crisis response team, said the mines were installed near Taung Pyo Wal, a region also known as Tumbro, at the border of Rakhine and Bangladesh.

"Local authorities in Myanmar must immediately stop the heinous practices against those who escaped from this persecution," said Hassan.

"Myanmar should also provide full access to humanitarian organizations including a demining team to enter Rakhine," she added.

Hassan said that mines have been banned internationally.

However, the Myanmar military is one of the few armed forces in the world, including North Korea and Syria, which still uses mines as a war strategy.

Kalma, 20, told Amnesty International that her mother-in-law lost her life due to a mine blast.

"My mother-in-law returned to our village [from the refugee camp] to take water for a bath. A few minutes later I heard a huge explosion and someone had stepped on a mine. It was my mother-in-law," she said.

Amnesty International also obtained evidence of mine photographs located not far from the explosion.

Four alleged explosions from mines occurred this week on a busy street in a township in Myanmar, near the border region. The blast wounded three, including two children.

Earlier this week, the Myanmar government denied media reports accusing the military of planting mines.

The Amnesty International called on all countries, especially the United States, member of EU, Israel, Australia, and Russia to stop military cooperation with Myanmar.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, Myanmar security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including those of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said the human rights violations constituted crimes against humanity.

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