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Rohingya crisis reporters go missing; rights groups blame Myanmar military

Over 95% of Rohingya reporters are said to have gone missing

IANS  |  Nay Pyi Taw 

Rohingya Muslims, who spent four days in the open after crossing over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carry their children and belongings after they were allowed to proceed towards a refugee camp, at Palong Khali, Bangladesh. Photo: AP | PTI
Rohingya Muslims, who spent four days in the open after crossing over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carry their children and belongings after they were allowed to proceed towards a refugee camp, at Palong Khali, Bangladesh. Photo: AP | PTI

Reporters working inside Myanmar's Rakhine state to document the Rohingya crisis have gone missing, raising fears that they have been deliberately targeted by the military, a media report said on Monday.

Young Rohingya volunteers had been secretly reporting on the persecution of the Muslim minority in since 2012, sending photos, videos and audio clips out of the country using smartphones, the report said.

Human rights groups have claimed the military have killed and abducted many of the reporters to "sabotage" the networks and that there was now very little reporting on what is happening in the closed state of Rakhine.

Rohingya refugee Mohammad Rafique, who edits the Rohingya community news portal The Stateless, said that "over 95 per cent" of Rakhine's mobile reporters had gone missing since the crackdown began.

"Security forces and Rakhine militia are still committing rapes, killings and arson in the Rohingya villages. But (as) the Rohingya mobile reporter network (is) dysfunctional there now, the detailed information of the violence, which we need to produce credible media reports, is not reaching us.

"media reporters and human rights activists too gather persecution and violence-related information from the Rohingya mobile network. They all, including our community's media outlets, are being starved of information from Rakhine now," the quoted Rafique as saying.

When riots broke out between Buddhists and Rohingya in Rakhine in 2012, the authorities deployed the military, with allegations surfacing that the Army committed human rights abuses in the Rohingya villages.

The Rohingya community leaders then set up the network of undercover citizen reporters, who began documenting incidents and sending reports out of the country, mostly for use by Rohingya media outlets.

Ko Ko Linn, a Bangladesh-based Rohingya community spokesperson, said 2,000 had been active in 2016.

Noor Hossain, 25, a former mobile reporter who fled to in early September, said they took extraordinary risks to gather information.

Phil Robertson, of Human Rights Watch, said: "With being absent on the ground, much of the eyewitness video and other information they provided has been lost...

"It's clear that the military has been systematically committing atrocities against the Rohingya - but the community's own monitors are not there to report it anymore."

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, November 27 2017. 12:48 IST
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