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Burma: man's leg blown off in new landmine blast

Two new landmine incidents today point to deliberate targeting of Rohingya

Brings number of sites where Burmese authorities have planted banned landmines to three

“This a cruel and callous way of adding to the misery of people fleeing a systematic campaign of persecution” – Tirana Hassan

Two new landmine incidents today, including a blast blowing off a young man’s leg, bring the number of known sites where the Burmese authorities have mined border crossings used by Rohingya fleeing violence to three, Amnesty International can confirm.

A Bangladeshi farmer in his early 20s stepped on a landmine near the Bangladeshi village of Baish Bari this morning when he was herding cattle in a buffer zone along the border with Burma. Witnesses also told Amnesty of another Rohingya man being rushed to medical treatment in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh today, after a separate landmine blast near the Bangladeshi village Amtali, another known border crossing point.

Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director, who is currently on the Bangladeshi side of the border, said:

“All indications point to the Burma security forces deliberately targeting locations that Rohingya refugees use as crossing points. This a cruel and callous way of adding to the misery of people fleeing a systematic campaign of persecution.

“This offers further evidence that this is not a problem that is going away on its own. The Burmese authorities must immediately end this abhorrent practice and allow demining teams to access its border areas.”

The new blasts took place along a border where the United Nations estimates 290,000 Rohingya fleeing violence have crossed in the past two weeks. Locals say they frequently see the Burmese security forces patrol the area.

The Burmese Army is one of only a handful of state forces worldwide, along with North Korea and Syria, to openly use antipersonnel landmines in recent years. The weapons were banned by an international treaty in 1997.

On 8 September, Amnesty International confirmed that the Burmese security forces had planted mines along the northern part of its border with Bangladesh on two busy paths near Taung Pyo Let Wea (known locally as Tumbro) where many Rohingya fleeing violence pass through. At least three people, including two children, were seriously injured, with all blasts taking place along heavily travelled roads.

Tirana Hassan said:

“Instead of denying responsibility, Burma should put the safety of people in the border area at the forefront. There is a reason why the use of antipersonnel landmines is illegal: they kill and maim indiscriminately and can’t distinguish between fighters and ordinary people.

“UN experts must be allowed to investigate the widespread and systematic violations that have taken place in Rakhine State, including Burma's use of banned landmines. Those responsible should be held to account.”

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