Myan­mar erects se­cu­rity struc­tures atop burned land: Amnesty

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS -

Myan­mar is build­ing se­cu­rity in­stal­la­tions on top of razed Ro­hingya vil­lages, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said on 12 March, cast­ing doubt on the coun­try's plans to repa­tri­ate hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees. Nearly 700,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims have fled north­ern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myan­mar launched a crack­down on ter­ror­ists six months ago.

A new Amnesty re­port, "Re­mak­ing Rakhine State," uses satel­lite im­agery and in­ter­views to point to a rapid in­crease in mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture and other con­struc­tion since the start of the year that re­searchers say amounts to a "land grab".

"The new ev­i­dence and the re­build­ing that Amnesty has doc­u­mented in our lat­est re­search shows that the Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties are build­ing over the top of the very places the Ro­hingya need to re­turn to," Ti­rana Has­san, Amnesty's cri­sis re­sponse di­rec­tor, told AFP ahead of the re­port's re­lease on Mon­day.

"In some in­stances there has been the de­struc­tion of ex­ist­ing homes." Though ad­mit­ting the im­ages only paint a par­tial pic­ture, the rights group says struc­tures for se­cu­rity forces, he­li­pads and even roads have been built in and around torched Ro­hingya prop­er­ties.

Satel­lite im­agery of one vil­lage called Kan Kya on the out­skirts of Rakhine's Maung­daw town taken two months af­ter the Au­gust at­tacks shows a set­tle­ment scarred by fire.

But by early March build­ings could be seen on the re­vamped land. Amnesty be­lieves they are part of a new base for se­cu­rity forces.

Sim­i­lar build­ing ac­tiv­ity was also de­tected in Inn Din vil­lage, where Myan­mar has ad­mit­ted that its se­cu­rity forces took part in the killings of 10 Ro­hingya res­i­dents in Septem­ber.

Rakhine state has been largely sealed off from rights groups, the me­dia and UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Myan­mar and Bangladesh were sup­posed to start repa­tri­at­ing Ro­hingya refugees in late Jan­uary but many are re­luc­tant to re­turn to a place with­out guar­an­tees of ba­sic rights and safety.

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. Myan­mar of­fi­cials could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

Myan­mar has de­nied claims it is cov­er­ing up ev­i­dence, say­ing it is im­prov­ing the stan­dard of liv­ing in one of the poor­est states in the coun­try.

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