Myanmar destroying crucial evidence of torture on Rohingya Muslims: Human Rights Watch

This Floating Island Is New Home For Rohingya Refugees In Bay Of Bengal

The UN child rights watchdog on Friday called on the Myanmar government to end the violence and to address what it terms as a crisis of human rights in Rakhine State, referring to restrictions on the Rohingya people's freedom of movement, extremely limited access to health care, education and livelihoods, and consequent dependence on humanitarian support.

HRW said at least 55 villages had been razed to the ground since late 2017, after almost 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape military and civilian reprisals in the state.

The new aerial photographs show at least 28 villages or hamlets were bulldozed in a 30-mile radius around Maungdaw between December and February; on some of the cleared areas, construction crews had erected new housing and helipads. They suggest that the demolitions are ongoing.

When it comes to the bulldozing operation, the government claims it is simply trying to rebuild a devastated region.

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

Chris Lewa, whose Arakan Project monitors the persecuted Muslim minority's plight, said the degree to which the villages had been razed would make it even harder for the Rohingya, who have no citizenship and few rights, to ever reclaim their land.

HRW has condemned the demolition, accusing Myanmar's security forces of erasing crucial evidence that could hold them accountable for their treatment of the Rohingya.

Myanmar's government spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Ferries that carry construction materials at Vashan Char previously known as Thengar Char island
Ferries that carry construction materials at Vashan Char previously known as Thengar Char island

Previously, Myanmar officials have said land needs to be cleared before new houses can be built.

Earlier this month, five mass graves with dozens of corpses were unearthed in the village of Gu Dar Pyin, where authorities have been accused of ordering soldiers to gang-rape the Rohingya before burning them to death.

The villages in Rakhine state were set ablaze after violence erupted last summer, when security forces drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya into exile, in a brutal clearance operation.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar daily reported that Myanmar, Japan and seven United Nations agencies had struck a deal on help for Rakhine State worth US$20 million. The country also blocked access for all independent media and human rights groups to northern Rakhine.

Kabir said at least another five people were injured as the elephant rampaged through flimsy tarpaulin-and-bamboo huts, which were built on forest land after the influx of refugees began almost six months ago. In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, Rab yesterday detained 11 foreign nationals at Rohingya camps in Ukhia and Teknaf as they failed to show "necessary documents".

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since then, making it what the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls "the world's fastest growing refugee crisis". They are viewed by the local authorities as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although many have been living in the region for decades, if not centuries.

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