News coming from Rakhine State is tightly controlled. Source: YouTube
More satellite pictures from Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State reveal mass destruction in ethnic Rohingya villages, according to Human Rights Watch, which is calling for a UN probe.
The pictures show that between November 10 and 18, 820 buildings were removed from five villages near the Bangladesh border. Rohingya Muslims make up the bulk of the area’s population. HRW separately reported that 430 other buildings were removed in multiple fires.
In 2013, HRW accused the then semi-civilian government in Nay Pyi Taw of “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingyas.
The military has deployed in large numbers since October 9, when an insurgent group of Rohingyas, with alleged links to Islamists overseas, apparently launched attacks on three border guard posts, according to the authorities. Journalists and NGOs are prevented from reaching the area so the allegations are difficult to verify.
Nine police officers and five troops were reportedly killed and a weapons was linked to a group called Al-Yakin Mujahidin by the Tatmadaw or military.
A Rohingya man named Salaman said told AFP he had helped to bury a man and a woman who were shot by soldiers on Saturday.
“Soldiers came in to Doetan village in the evening of the 19th about 5pm,” he reportedly said. “Most of the men from the village ran away because they are afraid of being arrested and tortured. Then they started shooting and two were killed.”
Rights activist Chris Lewa, whose Arakan Project NGO operates in Maungdaw, confirmed the account and said two babies were also swept away as villagers tried to escape across a river.
Since then 100 people have reportedly been killed, hundreds detained by the military and at least 30,000 have fled. Numerous women claim to have been raped by troops.
Nay Pyi Taw claims those killed were “Bengali terrorists” and denies the allegations of rape. It blamed the arson attacks on the alleged Muslim militants.
“What we want Burma to do is allow for a UN-assisted investigation into what’s happened on the ground in these districts,” said Phil Robertson of HRW’s Asia department.
He criticised Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, which came to power in April.
“It raises some fundamental questions over whether they are prepared to be an improvement over what we have seen from the previous government when it comes to Rakhine State,” said Robertson.
Under the 2008 Constitution, the Tatmadaw maintains control of the home affairs, border and defence ministries, allowing it to act with little democratic control in Rakhine State and all other border zones.