YANGON • More than 2,000 Rohingya have massed along Myanmar's coast this week after trekking from inland villages in Rakhine state to join the refugee exodus to Bangladesh, state media reported yesterday.
They follow more than half a million fellow Rohingya who have emptied out of northern Rakhine in a single month, fleeing an army crackdown and communal violence the United Nations says amounts to "ethnic cleansing".
The journey to Bangladesh is fraught with danger for the stateless Muslim minority, who have faced decades of systematic oppression in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.
After fleeing burning villages, more than 100 Rohingya have drowned while crossing the Naf River dividing the two countries.
The latest boat capsize last Thursday has left some 60 feared dead, with 23 bodies brought to shore as dozens more remain missing.
The report said officials tried to assure the Rohingya of their safety in Myanmar, but villagers said they "would still like to go to Bangladesh of their own accord".
Meanwhile, the Oxford University college where Ms Aung San Suu Kyi studied said yesterday it had taken down a portrait of the Myanmar leader, a decision that follows widespread criticism of her over the Rohingya crisis.
The portrait was replaced last Thursday with a new painting gifted by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Takada. Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi studied at St Hugh's College, graduating in philosophy, politics and economics in 1967 before completing a master's degree in politics in 1968.