Myanmar builds military bases where Rohingya homes and mosques stood: Amnesty

Myanmar builds military bases where Rohingya homes and mosques stood: Amnesty

Detailed satellite images published by Amnesty International appear to show security infrastructure replacing homes burned when Burmese forces moved in to the northern Rakhine state.

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

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents six months ago that the USA and United Nations have called ethnic cleansing.

Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said: "What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale".

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.

Nearly six months after launching the military operation, Myanmar's military has admitted to only killing 10 captured Rohingya men, who, it claims, were "terrorists".

Satellite imagery of one village called Kan Kya on the outskirts of Rakhine's Maungdaw town taken two months after the August attacks shows a settlement scarred by fire.

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The UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour last week said that "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya was continuing in Rakhine State through a "campaign of terror and forced starvation" intending to drive the remaining Rohingya population into Bangladesh.

At least four mosques that had not been wrecked by fire have been destroyed, or had their roofing or other materials removed, since late December, a time when significant conflict was not reported in the area, Amnesty said.

"No one wants to stay because they are afraid of more violence against them", said a 31-year-old man who fled to Bangladesh in January when the military erected a new fence and security post close to his village.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as its citizens, arguing they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which has led to continued discrimination against the Rohingya community as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement. Tens of thousands of Rohingya, who were driven from their homes during waves of violence in 2012, have for years been confined to open-air prisons in squalid displacement camps.

"We are going to build new villages and new homes and resettle people there according to the village planning", Zaw Htay said by phone.

Myanmar has denied it is covering up evidence, saying it is improving the standards of living in one of the country's poorest states. "Contributing to entrenching a system that systematically discriminates against Rohingya and that makes the return of refugees even less likely could amount to assisting in crimes against humanity".

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