Myanmar 'building military bases on Rohingya villages'

Kenny Tucker
March 12, 2018

Since August 2017, the Buddhist-majority nation has reportedly driven almost 700,000 members of the besieged community into neighboring Bangladesh, as part of a wildly indiscriminate military crackdown the global community has called ethnic cleansing.

In the report titled "Remaking Rakhine State", Amnesty has revealations by witness testimony, expert analysis and satellite images the progress of the military's construction, which intensified in January.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the border into Bangladesh since last August, clearing forests and camping on hillsides already crowded with more than 300,000 refugees from previous waves of migration.

"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.

In February, Human Rights Watch raised similar concerns, saying satellite imagery it had analysed showed at least 55 Rohingya villages had been cleared since late 2017.

"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 killed women, men, and children, committed rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls and systematically burned hundreds of villages, clearly committing crimes against humanity. "Myanmar's authorities are erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely hard", Hassan said.

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In one instance, the group found, a new border police post was recently built near what used to be a mosque.

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".

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.

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.

"Myanmar's authorities are erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely hard (.) New roads and structures are being built over burned Rohingya villages and land, making it even less likely for refugees to return to their homes", Tirana said.

"The military is not only building security force bases and roads but also bulldozing everything including houses, trees, landmarks and even graveyards", said Mohammad Ali, a Rohingya resident of Buthidaung town in northern Rakhine.

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