New satellite imagery from Burma’s western Rakhine state reveals mass destruction in ethnic Rohingya villages, said Human Rights Watch on Monday, calling for an urgent United Nations investigation into alleged abuses.
The high resolution images show that between November 10 and 18, 820 structures were destroyed in five villages in the jungles of the remote state. The area is inhabited by Muslim Rohingyas, one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
The damage was in addition to earlier reports by the human rights group of 430 more flattened buildings, along with evidence of multiple fires from thermal anomaly data.
In 2013, HRW accused the Burmese authorities of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingyas. The region of Maungdaw, northern Rakhine, is now seeing the biggest upsurge of violence against the minority in four years.
Soldiers poured into Rakhine after October 9, when an insurgent group of Rohingyas, that the government believes has links to Islamists overseas, launched coordinated attacks on several border guard posts.
Nine police officers and five soldiers were killed and a weapons cache stolen by a group calling themselves the Al-Yakin Mujahidin.
In the resulting crackdown, over 100 people have reportedly been killed, hundreds detained by the military, and at least 30,000 have fled for their lives. Women have claimed dozens have been raped by soldiers.
The crisis marks the biggest challenge faced by Burma’s new civilian government, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The government claims those killed were jihadists and denies the rapes. It admitted there was widespread burning but blamed it on unspecified “terrorists”. It claimed the total number of damaged buildings was significantly lower, and has forbidden access to the area.
“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, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner who secured a landslide in the November 2015 elections, has been criticised for her silence.
“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.
Some analysts believe the crisis has highlighted the limits of her power as the military still controls the key ministries of Home and Border Affairs.
Meanwhile unrest is simmering across Burma. On Monday, China said its army was on high alert after armed groups in Burma’s northeastern Shan state attacked military and police posts on their shared border over the weekend, and that it was sheltering fleeing Burmese citizens.
The official Xinhua news agency said there were military and civilian casualties but gave no further details. The Chinese defence ministry urged calm and restraint.
Source by: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/21/mass-destruction-of-ethnic-rohingya-villages-underway-in-burma-h/