Myanmar is razing Rohingya homes and building security bases, says Amnesty International

  • Myanmar is razing Rohingya homes and building security bases, says Amnesty International

Myanmar is razing Rohingya homes and building security bases, says Amnesty International

In a new report, the worldwide human rights group claims, with the help of satellite images and witness accounts, Myanmar's military has been bulldozing the remains of torched villages to make way for new infrastructure in the Rakhine state, where the majority of the estimated 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar used to reside.

"What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale", Tirana Hassan, Amnesty's crisis response director, said in a statement, adding how the new construction makes the much-debated return of Rohingya refugees even more impossible.

Spokesperson Colm O'Gorman says it makes it even more hard for refugees to 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.

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".

(COMBO) This handout image of a satellite photograph released by Amnesty International and DigitalGlobe on March 12, 2018 shows new structures and fencing built over the previously burnt village of Kan Kya in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

Reuters reported last October that Burmese officials were planning to sell thousands of acres left behind by Rohingya and would resettle returnees in "model villages" rather than their original homes.

As well as rapid housing and road construction in the area, at least three new security facilities were under construction, the global human rights group said.

The report also highlights concerns that abandoned Rohingya land will be set aside for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and other non-Muslim groups in the area, and that alterations to the landscape will erase evidence of alleged atrocities by the military.

Food, shelter and healthcare remain pressing needs for the Rohingya, who have fled a Myanmar army crackdown in Rakhine state en masse over the past six months.

Rakhine state has been largely sealed off from rights groups, the media and United Nations investigators.

According to Doctors without Borders (MSF), some 6,700 Rohingya have died during the military retaliation campaigns.

A massive new transit centre to temporarily house returning Rohingya is built on top of a burned Rohingya village in Maungdaw Township, and also shows signs of heightened security.

"Rakhine State is one of the poorest parts of Myanmar and investment in development is sorely needed".

The worldwide community, and in particular each donor state, has a duty to ensure that any investment or assistance it provides does not contribute to human rights violations.