The Rohingya refugee crisis in key dates

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UN investigators called Monday for the prosecution of Myanmar’s army chief for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority after a ferocious army crackdown drove more than 700,000 of them into Bangladesh.

Here are key dates since the exodus began a year ago:

– Rohingya militants attack –

On August 25, 2017 hundreds of Rohingya militants stage coordinated attacks on 30 police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, killing 13 police.

The Myanmar army hits back with operations in Rohingya villages, saying it is trying to flush out insurgents.

Witnesses tell of Rohingya civilians being massacred in retaliation, with mortars and machine guns fired at villagers fleeing to the Bangladesh border.

The army in the mainly Buddhist nation says it has killed 400 rebels. Opponents of the regime say most of the victims were civilians. The UN says at least 1,000 were killed in the first two weeks.

– Refugee storm –

By September 5 more than 120,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh, overwhelming its handful of ill-equipped refugee camps.

Many arrive desperate for food and water after walking for more than a week over hills and through dense jungle.

Many say they have been victims of abuses by the army and Buddhists.

Bangladesh already houses at least 300,000 Rohingya in camps near the border after previous exoduses.

– Suu Kyi breaks silence –

In her first public statement on the crisis, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi says on September 19 she is open to resettling some of the Rohingya who have fled, pending a “verification process”.

She fails to appease critics around the world.

Inside Myanmar her supporters say the Nobel Peace laureate, in power since April 2016, is unable to rein in the army, in charge for nearly half a century.

She makes a first visit to the conflict zone on November 2 but issues no statement.

– Repatriation accord –

Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23 ink a deal to start repatriating refugees in Bangladesh in two months, without using the word “Rohingya”.

A day later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says conditions have not been met for their safe and lasting return.

The accord remains a dead letter. The Rohingya want Myanmar to give guarantees about security and treat them as citizens.

– Pope asks for forgiveness –

Pope Francis meets 16 Rohingya refugees in a visit to Bangladesh on December 2, asking afterwards for “forgiveness”.

In Myanmar for four days, he avoids any direct reference to the Rohingya in public while appealing to Buddhist leaders to overcome “prejudice and hatred”.

– Possible ‘genocide’ –

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein calls on December 5 for a fresh international investigation into Myanmar’s abuses against the Rohingya, warning of possible “elements of genocide”.

The UN has on several occasions denounced “ethnic cleansing” by the Myanmar authorities.

– Thousands killed: aid group –

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) says on December 14 that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of the army crackdown.

Gunshot wounds were the cause in 69 percent of cases, it says.

Another nine percent were reported burned alive inside houses while five percent died from beatings.

– Ethnic cleansing continues: UN –

On March 6, 2018 the UN rights organisation says Myanmar is continuing its “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya with a “campaign of terror and forced starvation” in Rakhine state.

– Rohingya mark anniversary –

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees stage protests on August 25, the first anniversary of the exodus, for “justice”.

– UN cites ‘genocide’ –

UN investigators on August 27 call for an international investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya.