Myanmar Government Is Bulldozing Rohingya Villages “To Erase Evidence Of Atrocities”; Human Rights Report
Human Right group says at least 55 villages, many of which were already damaged by arson, had been completely bulldozed.

New satellite images have revealed how Myanmar’s government is using bulldozers to erase dozens of villages in Rakhine state in a systematic operation to destroy evidence of mass atrocities against the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority, Human Rights Watch said.

The images released by DigitalGlobe on Friday reveal Myanmar authorities have bulldozed at least 55 villages that were emptied of their Muslim inhabitants who have fled from what rights groups describe a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing.

In the wake of violence in August last year, over 88,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh, many of them recounting killings, rape, and arson by Myanmar soldiers.

Human Rights Watch said a total of 362 villages had been partially or completely destroyed since August, while Myanmar’s authorities claim they are trying to rebuild a devastated region.

Read More: Rohingya Muslim crisis: 400,000 sign petition to strip Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Nobel Prize

The group analysed a series of satellite images of Myanmar recorded between 11 November 2017, and 19 February 2018.

“Many of these villages were scenes of atrocities against Rohingya and should be preserved so that the experts appointed by the UN to document these abuses can properly evaluate the evidence to identify those responsible,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director.

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“Bulldozing these areas threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingya who lived there,” he added.

Formerly, Myanmar government claimed it is preparing areas to receive refugees who will return under a repatriation agreement signed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in November.

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Myanmar said it had begun building “transit camps” to accommodate returnees, and there were plans to “build new villages”.

A Rohingya woman who recently visited her former home in Myin Hlut said she was shocked by what she saw. Most houses had been torched last year, but now, “everything is gone, not even the trees are left” Zubairia, said: “They just bulldozed everything … I could hardly recognise it.”

Chris Lewa, whose Arakan Project monitors the persecuted Muslim minority’s plight, said: “How will they identify where they lived, if nothing is left, if nothing can be recognised?”

“Their culture, their history, their past, their present – it’s all being erased. When you see the pictures, it’s clear that whatever was left – the mosques, the cemeteries, the homes — they’re gone.”

“The situation of the Rohingya in no man’s land shows us clearly that any efforts to repatriate the nearly 700,000 Rohingya who fled last year are premature, ill-advised, and ultimately doomed to fail unless several preconditions are met for a safe and equitable return,” said Kyaw Win, executive director of Burma Human Rights Network.

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