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29 August 2017, 12:33 | Nina Hammond
Mass clashes in Myanmar: about a hundred killed
Pope Francis will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh later this year, the Vatican announced yesterday, hours after the Catholic leader decried the plight of Rohingya Muslims as they flee fresh fighting between the army and militants.
According to official figures, at least 98 people have died, including 80 militants and 12 soldiers or police, since armed members of the Rohingya ethnic group launched co-ordinated attacks on police and army posts in the far west of Burma.
Deadly violence has worsened in Myanmar's Rakhine state in the last three days from Sunday 27 August 2017, with almost 100 people killed.
Some of the thousands of Rohingya attempting to escape in the other direction into neighbouring Bangladesh have been shot and killed close to the border.
She said her husband and brothers had taken a group of 26 people, including children, to the Naf river which separates Bangladesh and Myanmar. "Despite broken hearts for our fellow Rohingya, we can not let them stay here or else we might be driven back to (the) border".
He said they had seen several holes that appeared to be caused by bombs along the roads around Maungdaw.
The announcement was the first by the government to list civilians among the dead-six people identified as Hindu said to have been killed by the insurgents. There were already around an estimated 400,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh before insurgent attacks in Rakhine last October sparked brutal reprisals by security forces that led to another 87,000 fleeing Myanmar.
ARSA, a Rohingya insurgent group, took responsibility for Thursday night's attacks saying they were carried out to defend Rohingya communities from government forces.
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Speaking to media, Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights, a human rights group, said the with the "authorities treating all Rohingya as combatants", the government's account of the violence would be "dubious at best".
The government refuses to recognize Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority, calling them Bengalis to reflect the position that they are mostly illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
"A lot of people are on the run and they need serious protection and the authorities have not made it easy to help them".
Indeed, such an amendment would harmonise and further the commitment made by member states to uphold not only the Asean Human Rights Declaration agreed in 2012, but also other applicable global human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam 1990, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954, as well as the Geneva Conventions 1949, which protect civilians and refugees fleeing state-sponsored violence.
In a video posted online on Monday, ARSA leader Ata Ullah, flanked by two gun-toting men in masks, warned Myanmar against "oppressing" Rohingya and vowed to keep fighting to protect the rights of the community.
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize victor from her years of nonviolent opposition to junta rule, has faced a chorus of global criticism over the continued plight of the Rohingya.
"They were pleading with us not to send them back to Myanmar", one policeman told AFP on condition of anonymity.
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