Myanmar building military bases in burnt Rohingya villages


Drawing on satellite image analysis and interviews with Rohingya eyewitnesses, Amnesty said that Rohingya mosques and homes have been bulldozed "at an alarming pace", and new infrastructure, including roads, helipads, and military bases, are being build in their place. Authorities have rejected the accusation that this will destroy evidence, and said clearing of land was to help build new homes for refugees when they return home.

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.

Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said: "What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale".

Satellite imagery revealed that new security bases have been erected over torched Rohingya land, said Amnesty International on Monday.

There are more than 3,00,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, who fled in earlier waves of violence from Myanmar since the last three decades. "Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanising discrimination they have faced in Myanmar".

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Nearly six months after launching the military operation, Myanmar's military has admitted to only killing 10 captured Rohingya men, who, it claims, were "terrorists".

Myanmar and Bangladesh reached a deal in November to repatriate those who fled.

Modi assured Bangladesh of his government's support for a safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims, said Joynal Abedin, the Press Secretary to the Bangladeshi president.

Researchers also found signs that whole villages have been bulldozed since January, potentially destroying vital evidence from last August's violence.

The military killed hundreds of women, men and children, committed rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls, and systematically burned hundreds of villages, committing clear crimes against humanity.

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Entire villages were burned to the ground a year ago as Burmese forces swept through Rakhine, killing and raping in a campaign the United Nations human rights chief called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Amnesty International says its images show the reception centres, which have been built to house returning Rohingya, are surrounded by security fences and close to areas with a heavy military presence.

However, that does not appear to be the case as Amnesty claims the new construction, as stated above, seems to be designed for the military as well as non-Rohingya villagers.

"Rakhine State is one of the poorest parts of Myanmar and investment in development is sorely needed". The authorities can not be allowed to continue their campaign of ethnic cleansing in the name of "development".

More than 670,000 people have fled into Bangladesh, where they are now facing the prospect of forced repatriation to Myanmar.

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