One member of the Rohingya Muslim community was killed and six more were injured on Tuesday, July 4, in Sittwe, Rakhine state, by a Buddhist mob in the latest episode of ethnic violence in the region. The attack came as the group of Rohingya men had left their displacement camp to testify in court in Sittwe city. The group stopped at a dock to discuss purchasing a boat, when an argument devolved into violence. Tensions remain high in the region and further incidents of violence are possible.
The Rohingya people are a group of more than 1 million Muslims who primarily live in western Myanmar's Rakhine state. Armed groups of Rohingyas simultaneously raided several border checkpoints in Rakhine state at the Bangladeshi border on October 9, 2016, injuring a dozen Myanmar soldiers. Retaliatory attacks took place in the following days as the military deployed troops to the area and imposed a curfew.
In a bid to demonstrate its ability to handle the situation, the military carried out counterinsurgency operations for four months, ending in mid-February 2017. Human rights groups accused the army of committing crimes against humanity, and possibly ethnic cleansing, during their crackdown operations, including rape, torture, burning down over 1000 homes, and killing an unknown number of civilians, possibly over 1000. This violent crackdown caused an estimated 70,000 Rohingyas to flee across the border to Bangladesh, while at least 20,000 were internally displaced. The United Nations has established a fact-finding mission to investigate crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the military during the counter-offensive.
Individuals present in Myanmar are advised to remain vigilant and to adhere by all instructions issued by authorities.
As a precautionary measure, many Western governments and Myanmar authorities advise travelers against all but essential travel to Rakhine state, except the southern townships of Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Munaung, Toungup, Thandwe (including the tourist resort of Ngapali), and Gwa. Individuals present in western Myanmar should avoid nonessential travel to the region bordering Bangladesh.
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