Re­port ac­cuses Myan­mar of us­ing ‘scorched earth’ tac­tics

The Jakarta Post - - SPORTS - In­dra Bu­di­ari

A re­port re­leased by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional sug­gests that the cri­sis in Myan­mar has been made worse by mil­i­tary and vig­i­lante mobs burning down the houses of the mi­nor­ity Ro­hingya group.

Amnesty’s field team de­tected that since Aug. 25 at least 80 large fires were de­lib­er­ately ig­nited in in­hab­ited ar­eas across north­ern Rakhine state. Vic­tim tes­ti­mony and satel­lite sen­sors have con­firmed the find­ing, Amnesty said.

Laura Haigh, an Amnesty re­searcher, said on Fri­day that field re­search found that none of the ar­eas oc­cu­pied by other eth­nic groups were hit by fires. The area ef­fected by what Amnesty calls a “scorched earth” strat­egy re­port­edly to­tals 3,300 square kilo­me­ters. The claim was sup­ported by satel­lite images of the vil­lage tract of Inn Din, a mixed eth­nic com­mu­nity in south Maung­daw that showed how an area of Ro­hingya homes had been burned to the ground, while other ar­eas ap­pear to have been left un­touched.

The rights group be­lieves that the true num­ber of fires and the ex­tent of prop­erty de­struc­tion is likely to be much greater as the cloud cover dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son has made it dif­fi­cult for satel­lites to see ev­ery­thing.

“Dur­ing the pe­riod [since Aug. 25], there was no at­tempt to set fires in places other than the ones in­hab­ited by Ro­hingya,” Haigh told re­porters in Jakarta through a video call from Bangkok.

The hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Rakhine reached an­other low on Aug. 25 as mil­i­tants from the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army made co­or­di­nated at­tacks on 30 po­lice posts and an army base. The Myan­mar mil­i­tary hit back at the mil­i­tants in clashes in­volv­ing hun­dreds of Ro­hingya in­sur­gents across north­ern Rakhine.

In a clash that caused many fa­tal­i­ties on the mil­i­tants’ side, 12 mem­bers of Myan­mar’s se­cu­rity forces and sev­eral civil­ians had also re­port­edly died. Re­cent data sug­gest that more than 100 peo­ple died dur­ing the fight­ing.

Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has found her­self fac­ing world crit­i­cism as she al­lowed an army op­er­a­tion that has killed more than 400 peo­ple and forced al­most 400,000 Ro­hingya into Bangladesh. The United Na­tions has called on Myan­mar to end what it de­scribed as “eth­nic cleans­ing.”

Suu Kyi has de­cided not to take part at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly later this month. Us­man Hamid, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s In­done­sia di­rec­tor, said that the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil should is­sue a strong rec­om­men­da­tion to put pres­sure on Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment to put an end to the on­go­ing cri­sis dur­ing a sched­uled meet­ing in Geneva next week.

“We also hope that the meet­ing would ex­tend the fact-find­ing team’s ten­ure to con­tinue their op­er­a­tion in Myan­mar,” he said.

In­done­sia has sent 34 tons of food, rice, clean wa­ter, clothes and tents to Myan­mar. The as­sis­tance ar­rived in Myan­mar on Thurs­day and has re­port­edly been sent on­wards to Rakhine.

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