Published: Mon, February 26, 2018
Entertaiment | By Kelly Sanders

Myanmar bulldozing remnants of Rohingya Muslim villages

Myanmar bulldozing remnants of Rohingya Muslim villages

Myanmar officials have been bulldozing [HRW report] depopulated Rohingya villages that were previously the targets of arson by the government, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported Friday.

The State Counsellor Office Information Committee said on December 1 that the government had built houses in over 20 villages across Rakhine State.

First, their villages were burned to the ground.

"They want to make it hard to find graves, weapons used or any other evidence that would connect the crime scene to the criminals", Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, told DW.

The demolition would lead to destruction of crucial evidence of mass atrocities against Myanmar's Rohingya minority.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a statement earlier this week that the settlement of Rohingya Muslims on the island would be a "temporary arrangement" to reduce the dense population at the refugee camps in the Bangladeshi border city of Cox's Bazar, where almost 700,000 members of the ethnic minority group now live in deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Amnesty's excoriating report paints a grim picture of the state of human rights globally, arguing that "hate-filled narratives by governments around the world" havegiven licence to bigotry and discrimination against already-vulnerable groups. "What HRW said must refer to these clearings, but we must clear the areas to implement the plan".

Asked about the return of refugees to Myanmar, Dujarric said, they only should return to the sites of their former homes voluntarily, when they feel safe.

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The Rohingya, described by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Earlier this month the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, urged caution on a controversial plan to repatriate the Rohingya refugess, which was put on hold due to logistical concerns last month. The camp opened in January to house returning refugees; but none have arrived and Rohingya have continued to flee.

The military responded with what it calls "clearance operations", with reports of security forces and Buddhist vigilantes indiscriminately attacking the Rohingya and burning their villages.

The Burmese government has refused to grant visas to the UN Fact-Finding Mission, which was created by the Human Rights Council in March 2106, preventing it from collecting evidence in affected areas of northern Rakhine State.

But Myanmar has also destroyed a total of 362 villages in six months, which, HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams said is nothing short of destroying evidence of crimes.

"Donor governments should ensure they don't provide any direct or indirect support that would hamper justice or assist those responsible for ethnic cleansing", Adams said.

"The warning signs in Myanmar had always been visible: massive discrimination and segregation had become normalised within a regime that amounted to apartheid, and for long years the Rohingya people were routinely demonised and stripped of the basic conditions needed to live in dignity".

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