HRW satellite data shows 1250 structures destroyed
MORE than 1200 houses have been destroyed in northern Rakhine State, according to an analysis of satellite images by Human Rights Watch released yesterday.
After reviewing high-resolution satellite imagery, the international rights organisation said it had identified 820 structures that had been destroyed in five villages in Maungdaw township between November 10 to 18. This is the second such analysis of satellite footage from HRW, which the group said represents another, “more destructive round of arson attacks” following from the 430 destroyed structures reported on November 13.
In total, the rights group said its analysis showed 1250 buildings had been destroyed during the military lockdown, which began after deadly October 9 attacks on border guard posts.
Thermal data from environmental satellite sensors analysed by HRW also revealed multiple, active fires burning in several villages between November 12 and 15.
“These alarming new satellite images confirm that the destruction in Rohingya villages is far greater and in more places than the government has admitted,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement yesterday.
The government said at a press conference on November 15 that fewer than 300 houses have been destroyed in attacks by militants who want to “sow a seed of misunderstanding between the government troops and the people”.
Presidential spokesperson U Zaw Htay played down the latest satellite images.
“What we have seen on the ground is not that widespread,” he told AFP.
“Both the government and the military have strongly prohibited any human rights violations, especially against women and children,” he said.
Since the resurgence of violence in northern Rakhine State up to 30,000 people have been displaced, according to the UN, half of them over a two-day period when dozens died after the military brought in helicopter gunships.
Nearly 70 people have been killed, and more than 400 arrested since the lockdown began six weeks ago, according to state media reports, but activists say the number could be far higher. – AFP with additional reporting by
The Myanmar Times