Myanmar's military accused of "land grab' in Rakhine State"

Doug Mendoza
March 13, 2018

Myanmar is reportedly "militarizing" Rakhine state and building up bases in former Rohingya neighborhoods, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday.

Satellite images show the construction of at least three new security bases being built in northern Rakhine's Maungdaw township and one in Ah Lel Chaung village in Buthidaung township, where eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that soldiers evicted Rohingya to make way for the construction, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh.

"New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya", Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's Crisis Response director, said, as quoted in the press release.

"Before repatriation can be really considered, Myanmar must break the cycle of violence in Rakhine, recognize the Rohingyas' right to self-identify, restore their citizenship, and uphold their human rights", Lee said.

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been the target of global vitriol for a perceived failure to stand up for the stateless minority. "As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media", he said.

In the once mixed ethnicity village of Inn Din - where Amnesty International has documented how security forces and their proxies killed Rohingya villagers and torched their homes in late August and early September 2017 - satellite imagery shows what appears to be a new security force base being built where the Rohingya part of the village used to be.

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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.

Lee, whose access to Myanmar was denied previous year, also expressed concerns that as the world's attention was drawn to the recent crisis in Rakhine State, scant attention had been afforded to continued and escalating violence in Kachin, Shan and other conflict affected states in the country.

A harsh security response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on August 25 sent members of the mostly stateless minority fleeing to Bangladesh and saw more than 350 villages destroyed by fire in western Myanmar's Rakhine state. "They worked on farms, and their farms were destroyed by locals. We are ready to take action, where there is the evidence", he said.

"I have heard that local majority people threatened them and didn't let them buy their products", he said.

Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's minister of social welfare minister, and Vikram Misri, India's ambassador to Myanmar, agreed on the construction plan during a meeting in Naypyidaw in February.

The global rights watchdog said although the violence in Rakhine State has subsided, the campaign to drive Rohingya out of their homeland - and ensure they can not return - continues but has taken on new forms. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Other reports by GizPress

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