Violent clashes between Rakhine’s two largest peoples (Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya) killed 88 people from both communities in June 2012. The Burmese authorities took advantage of the situation to intern a part of the Rohingya population, which they do not regard to be originally from Burma.
In addition to the 135,000 Rohingya interned in the Rakhine camps, hundreds of thousands more fled to Bangladesh. Some 890,000 Rohingya are now sheltered in refugee camps in that country, according to UN data.
As regards the detention centres in Rakhine, HRW describes the situation there as more similar to a prison than to IDP camps. According to the rights groups, the movements to leave and enter the camps are “heavilly controlled” by the police and the army. HRW points out that such a de facto mass arrest is part of a policy by the Burmese authorities that constitutes “crimes against humanity of apartheid, persecution, and imprisonment that have deprived Rohingya of their liberty and threatened their lives and livelihoods.”