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Myanmar builds security structures on Rohingya land

13 March 2018
Myanmar builds security structures on Rohingya land

Rakhine State remains among the poorest in Burma (Myanmar) and the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to invest in rebuilding the region after "clearing operations" by the Tatmadaw army devastated scores of Rohingya villages, leaving them deserted.

"What we are seeing in Rakhine State is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale", said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty's crisis response director.

In Kan Kya village, for example - burned down between August and November past year - homes and at least two mosques were demolished to make way for a new security force base.

Lee also expressed concerns that as the world's attention was drawn to the recent crisis in Rakhine State, scant attention had been afforded to continued and escalating violence in Kachin, Shan and other conflict affected States in Myanmar.

A harsh security response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on August 25 sent members of the mostly stateless minority fleeing to Bangladesh and saw more than 350 villages destroyed by fire in western Myanmar's Rakhine state.

An Amnesty spokesperson said this "alarming" militarisation was removing evidence of crimes against Rohingya.

According to Bangladesh government's statistics, an average of 75 Rohingya refugees fled their villages in Myanmar every day between January 1 and February 15.

In a new brief entitled "Remaking Rakhine State", Amnesty analysts found that new military bases, helipads and road networks were being constructed on top of villages that were destroyed during the military's scorched-earth campaign against the Rohingya.

The report also highlights concerns that abandoned Rohingya land will be set aside for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and other non-Muslim groups in the area, and that alterations to the landscape will erase evidence of alleged atrocities by the military.

The uncertain situation in Rakhine furr hinders repatriation plans of Rohingya fled since August that Bangladésh and Myanmar agreed last November, and that in principle y should have started in January of this year.

Eyewitnesses also told Amnesty International how non-Rohingya people were living in new villages that have been built on burned Rohingya homes and farmland over the past months.

"This must be aimed at the individuals who gave the orders and carried out violations against individuals and entire ethnic and religious groups", said Lee.

In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Delivering her report to the Council in Geneva yesterday, Lee said that to date accountability for the crimes committed in Rakhine State following August 25 previous year, and October 9, 2016, was elusive, adding that this must now be the focus of the global community's efforts to bring long-lasting peace, stability and democratisation to Myanmar.