A police official said on Tuesday that Saffron-robed Buddhist monks led a mob that broke down gates and entered the walled multi-storied compound near Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
“We have pushed back the mob and the refugees will be relocated in a safer place,” AFP quoted the unnamed official as saying.
The police official said the refugees were taken into “protective custody” and had been brought back to their safe house when the mob returned and started throwing stones.
The official added that they were authorized to remain in Sri Lanka pending processing of their papers. The Rohingya were eventually to be resettled in a third country.
Meanwhile, a monk who stormed into the building was filmed by his radical Sinhalese National Force as he urged others to join him and smash the premises.
“These are Rohingya terrorists who killed Buddhist monks in Myanmar,” the monk said in a message posted on Facebook, pointing to Rohingya mothers with small children in their arms.
In May, over 30 Rohingya refugees were rescued by the Sri Lankan navy after they were found drifting in a boat off the island’s northern waters.
Sri Lanka’s extremist Buddhist monks have close links with their ultra-nationalist counterparts in Myanmar. Both have been accused of orchestrating violence against minority Muslims in the two countries.
UN experts urge Aung San Suu Kyi to meet Rohingya
A group of UN human rights experts says Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi should personally meet members of the persecuted Muslim community in the country.
The group of seven UN officials, who include the special rapporteurs on human rights in Myanmar, on minority issues and on racism, made the demand in a statement on Tuesday. “We call on Aung San Suu Kyi to meet the Rohingya personally.”
The implementation of promises by Suu Kyi to address the crisis, including that perpetrators would be held accountable, would amount to an “empty gesture” since so many Rohingya have fled, the statement said.
Myanmar’s forces have been attacking Rohingya Muslims and torching their villages in Rakhine since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August 25, following a number of armed attacks on police and military posts in the troubled western state.
Suu Kyi’s government has snubbed and obstructed UN officials who have sought to investigate the situation. The government has prevented aid agencies from delivering food, water and medicines to the refugees.
Suu Kyi has also rejected UN accusations that Myanmar’s forces are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.
Considering Suu Kyi’s reputation for micromanagement, political analysts say it seems unlikely that the ongoing violence is taking place without her approval.
In early September, peace activists launched an international campaign calling on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to take back its 1991 prize to Suu Kyi over her complicity in what is viewed as the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
The Muslims have been subject to communal violence by Myanmar’s military and extremist Buddhists for years.
The latest eruption of violence in Rakhine has killed more than 1,000 people and triggered an exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh.
The latest figures by the UN indicate that some 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since violence broke out on August 25. The UN has increased its estimate by 45,000 in two days.
According to a report by UN agencies and international charities, the change was due “in large part” to an estimated 35,000 Rohingya moving into two refugee camps who had not been accounted for before.
The report also said numbers crossing the border had started to rise again.
The UN gave a figure of 435,000 Rohingya arrivals on September 23.
A 2,000-acre (eight square kilometer) space near existing camps has been set aside to house the new arrivals.
Refugees in Bangladesh have told numerous eyewitness accounts of summary executions, rapes, and arson attacks by the Myanmar military since the crackdown against the minority group began.
Myanmar’s government brands more than one million Rohingya Muslims in the country as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims, however, have had roots in the country that go back centuries. They are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”