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Myanmar building military bases in burnt Rohingya villages

13 March, 2018, 12:05 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
  • Rohingya Muslims carry their children and belongings after crossing the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh

This handout combination image of two satellite photographs released by Amnesty International and DigitalGlobe on March 12, 2018 shows before and after images taken on September 6, 2017 and February 5, 2018 of new structures and helipads being built over agricultural fields in the village of Pa Da Kar Ywar Thit in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

Lee, who was informed late a year ago that her access to the country was denied, also expressed serious concern that "the repressive practices of previous military governments were returning as the norm once more" in Myanmar, describing the situation faced by civil society across the country as "increasingly perilous".

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a crackdown on insurgents six months ago.

Myanmar denies the charge claiming it was responding to attacks by Muslim insurgents. The statement is casting doubt on the country's plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Myanmar's military is razing emptied Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine state and building bases on the rubble, raising fears that evidence of atrocities may be destroyed, according to a new report by rights watchdog Amnesty International. During the operations, Rohingya villages were burnt to the ground, while thousands were allegedly killed and women raped.

UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said Facebook was a huge part of public, civil and private life, and the government used it to disseminate information to the public.

"There is an increasing amount of credible evidence, including satellite images, which indicates that whole villages that were once home to Rohingya have been bulldozed to the ground", she said.

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

The report uses satellite images that reveal the rapid increase in military infrastructure being built on top of flattened villages. "No one wants to stay because they are afraid of more violence against them", said a 31-year-old man who fled to Bangladesh in January when the military erected a new fence and security post close to his village.

"[Facebook] was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities", she said.

The images are published as the United Nations said almost $1 billion (pounds 721 million) will be needed this year in global aid for Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded camps in southeastern Bangladesh.

"Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in Myanmar", Hassan added.

The rights group is accusing the authorities of taking over areas Rohingya Muslims are meant to return to.



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