Myanmar builds security bases on torched Rohingya villages: Amnesty

Myanmar builds security bases on torched Rohingya villages: Amnesty

Myanmar builds security bases on torched Rohingya villages: Amnesty

In Myanmar, ultra-nationalist monks led by firebrand preacher Ashin Wirathu have poured vitriol on the country's small Muslim population, cheering a military crackdown forcing almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslim into Bangladesh.

Through eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of satellite images, Remaking Rakhine State reveals how flattening of Rohingya villages and new construction have intensified since January in areas where hundreds of thousands fled the military's campaign of ethnic cleansing past year.

Amnesty's findings will likely cast major doubts over the Myanmar government's pledge to welcome back Rohingya refugees who fled across the border in Bangladesh during the crackdown.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, a minority ethnic group on Buddhist majority Myanmar, fled the clampdown launched in August in response to attacks by suspected Muslim insurgents on a number of security posts in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state. "Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in Myanmar".

Citing photographs and satellite imagery, a report by Amnesty found that authorities were razing burnt remains of Rohingya villages, demolishing surviving buildings and clearing trees and other vegetation.

The military killed women, men, and children, committed rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls and systematically burned hundreds of villages, clearly committing crimes against humanity. The landscape has become "virtually unrecognisable" in many areas, the report said.

The operation has raised concerns among rights groups that the authorities are destroying evidence of crimes against the Rohingya, which could hinder future investigations.

"The bulldozing of entire villages is incredibly worrying", said Ms Hassan. "There are only police posts for regional security and law enforcement reasons".

Amnesty's analysis of new satellite imagery appears to prove that at least three new security bases have been built in Rakhine since January. In one case, Rohingya villagers who had remained in Myanmar were forcibly evicted to make way for a base, it said.

"This makes the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees an even more distant prospect", said Hassan.

Bangladesh and Myanmar in November signed an arrangement for the return of the Rohingya Muslims in two years.

"We are going to build new villages and new homes and resettle people there according to the village planning", he added.

UNITED Nations officials said today almost US$1 billion (RM4 billion) is needed this year to feed and care for the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded camps in southeastern Bangladesh.

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