Myanmar militarizes the area from which the persecuted Rohingya fled

13 March, 2018, 04:36 | Author: Pamela Mathis
  • Rights group says Myanmar army building on razed villages

Myanmar are building security bases on top of razed Rohingya villages, said Amnesty International on Monday, accusing authorities of a "land grab". The statement is casting doubt on the country's plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of refugees. The operation against Rohingya, to whom Myanmar, of Buddhist majority, considers illegal immigrants Bangladeshi despite carrying centuries living in Rakhine (formerly called Arakan), began on August 25, 2017, following several attacks of army of Salvation Rohingya of Arakan (ARSA) against security posts in Rakhine.

Although the Amnesty report refers to the construction of three security bases, in the Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, there is growing evidence more facilities are being developed, Haigh added.

In Kan Kya village, for example - burned down between August and November past year - homes and at least two mosques were demolished to make way for a new security force base.

The report said the bases would house the same security forces that committed crimes against the Rohingya.

"What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale".

Zaw Htay, a government spokesman, rejected the claims, and said the government was not basing military forces in residential areas but that police stations were part of village construction plans.

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

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According to Bangladesh government's statistics, an average of 75 Rohingya refugees fled their villages in Myanmar every day between January 1 and February 15.

Lee also expressed concerns that as the world's attention was drawn to the recent crisis in Rakhine State, scant attention had been afforded to continued and escalating violence in Kachin, Shan and other conflict affected States in Myanmar. Not only have ir homes been destroyed, but new constructions dehumanize even more discrimination y already suffered, "says Hassan".

Amnesty International also said that the building activity raises serious concerns that authorities are destroying evidence of crimes against the Rohingya, making it impossible to conduct investigations and hold accountable those who perpetrated the atrocities.

On Monday, the UN's Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee also said Myanmar's government appeared to be pursuing a policy of starvation.

Amnesty said Myanmar's "reshaping" of the region where the Rohingya lived appeared to be created to accommodate more security forces and non-Rohingya villagers, and could deter refugees from agreeing to return.

"The violence and suffering calls not just for accountability but also for self-reflection by the United Nations, and the question: Could we have prevented this?" she said.

In related news, almost 300 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and ethnic Mro people originally from Myanmar recently left their farms in Bangladesh and returned to Maungdaw township, local administrators said Monday.

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