Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Myanmar 'militarising' Rohingya villages, says Amnesty report

Myanmar 'militarising' Rohingya villages, says Amnesty report

The report uses satellite images that reveal the rapid increase in military infrastructure being built on top of flattened villages. In fact, to make way for the largest of the three bases, Rohingya villagers were forcibly evicted, Amnesty found.

Myanmar and Bangladesh were supposed to start repatriating Rohingya refugees in late January but many are reluctant to return to a place without guarantees of basic rights and safety. "Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in Myanmar".

By bulldozing entire villages the authorities are also "erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely difficult", said Ms Hassan.

The Myanmar military launched a violent crackdown against the country's Muslim minority in August, after a Rohingya insurgent group attacked several security outposts in Rakhine.

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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. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

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

Lee, whose access to Myanmar was denied a year ago, 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 the country.

In a speech in front of UN Human Rights Council, Zeid said Rohingya are still fleeing Myanmar because "systematic" violence, albeit less intense, persists.

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Exodus of refugees across the border into Bangladesh has continued into 2018.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since fighting broke out between Rohingya militants and Myanmar's security forces last August.

"What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale", said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty's crisis response director.

Though admitting the images only paint a partial picture, the rights group says structures for security forces, helipads and even roads have been built in and around torched Rohingya properties. A repatriation agreement with Bangladesh was supposed to come into force in January. The last step of Beijing initiative, which invests in projects of a different nature in Rakhine, is to find a long-term solution based on developing state, one of most depauperados in country.

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