Myanmar erasing evidence of Rohingya crimes

Who’s calling the shots for the Rohingya people

Amnesty International says Myanmar's military is building installations on land in villages that had been occupied by Muslim Rohingya who fled to neighboring Bangladesh after their homes were burned down in what analysts charge was a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the authorities.

In a new brief entitled "Remaking Rakhine State", Amnesty analysts found that new military bases, helipads and road networks were being constructed on top of villages that were destroyed during the military's scorched-earth campaign against the Rohingya.

New construction has begun, in the form of security bases and infrastructure, or villages meant for non-Rohingya people.

The report follows previous accounts by Amnesty and other rights groups who have documented the demolition of Rohingya villages at the epicenter of recent violence, prompting concerns that evidence of human rights abuses are being concealed before they can be properly documented.

"What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale", said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director. "There are only police posts for regional security and law enforcement reasons". "No-one wants to stay because they are afraid of more violence against them".

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

"Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in Myanmar", Hassan added. The military's scorched-earth campaign was widely denounced internationally and likened by several rights groups to an "ethnic cleansing campaign". Amnesty said that authorities were also destroying villages not burnt but "deserted by inhabitants fleeing killings, starvation and the threat of further violence".

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. Most rely on aid for their basic needs.

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

Myanmar has denied it is covering up evidence, saying it is improving the standards of living in one of the country's poorest states.

Aerial imagery of Kan Kya, Rakhine State, Burma.

"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".

Bangladesh and Myanmar in November signed an arrangement for the return of the Rohingya Muslims in two years.



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