Crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims 'bear hallmarks of genocide': United Nations expert

Crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims 'bear hallmarks of genocide': United Nations expert

Myanmar's Rakhine State, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee a violent expulsion campaign a year ago, is being militarized by Burmese security forces at a rapid pace, according to a chilling new report from Amnesty International.

While Myanmar's government hasn't officially commented on the latest report, Amnesty cited a statement from officials, according to which the villages are being bulldozed to accommodate returning refugees.

Amnesty International also said that the building activity raises serious concerns that authorities are destroying evidence of crimes against the Rohingya, making it impossible to conduct investigations and hold accountable those who perpetrated the atrocities.

Satellite imagery reveals how, in just a few months, new bases have been erected over torched Rohingya land, with whole villages and even nearby forests cleared to make room, it said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed a repatriation plan in January that would see the most recent arrivals returned to Myanmar within two years.

The UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour last week said that "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya was continuing in Rakhine State through a "campaign of terror and forced starvation" intending to drive the remaining Rohingya population into Bangladesh. The exact death toll can not be confirmed since Myanmar's government restricts obstructs reporters from covering the ongoing crisis in Rakhine State.

However, that does not appear to be the case as Amnesty claims the new construction, as stated above, seems to be designed for the military as well as non-Rohingya villagers. A repatriation agreement with Bangladesh was supposed to come into force in January.

A human rights group says Myanmar is building bases on land where the homes and mosques of Rohingya Muslims once stood.

In January, officials said they were ready to start repatriating refugees living in Bangladeshi camps, but many are refusing to return until they get guarantees of safety and basic rights.

The atrocities by the Myanmar security forces drove out some 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh since August 25 past year.

She called for the establishment of a United Nations structure, based in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, for a duration of three years to investigate, document, collect, consolidate, map, and analyze evidence of human rights violations and abuses.

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of a fact-finding mission on Myanmar set up by the council, said his team had received a flood of allegations against the security forces in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan and elsewhere.

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



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