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World

Web Desk
September 15, 2017
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Myanmar military burning villages of Rohingya Muslims: HRW

Myanmar military burning villages of Rohingya Muslims: HRW

DHAKA: The Myanmar military is deliberately burning ethnic Rohingya villages near the Bangladesh border, Human Rights Watch said in a statement Friday.

It said that the new satellite images confirmed that such acts of arson, after forcing residents to leave their villages, appear central to the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State.

The new satellite imagery and sensory data showed that 62 villages in northern Rakhine State were targeted by arson attacks between August 25 and September 14, 2017. The rights watchdog identified 35 of these villages with extensive building destruction from very high resolution satellite imagery, and an additional 26 villages that had active fires detected in near-real time with environmental satellite sensors.

“Our field research backs what the satellite imagery has indicated – that the Myanmar military is directly responsible for the mass burning of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The United Nations and member countries should urgently impose measures on the Myanmar government to stop these atrocities and end the forced flight of Rohingya from Myanmar.”

The HRW conducted a detailed building damage assessment in six of the 35 affected villages and identified nearly complete destruction in each case. The total number of destroyed buildings was 948.

Global outrage

Pressure on Myanmar soared as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the violence against Rohingya Muslims "unacceptable" and rights group Amnesty said on Friday it has evidence of the military´s "systematic" torching of villages.

The increasingly harsh global condemnation comes as the number of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar´s Rakhine state for Bangladesh to escape ethnic unrest hit 389,000, and the United Nations warned of a looming "worst case scenario" with all of the Muslim minority group trying to leave.

The number of refugees was up 10,000 in just 24 hours, as the three-week old crisis deepens.

"We need to support Aung San Suu Kyi and her leadership but also be very clear and unequivocal to the military power sharing in that government that this is unacceptable," Tillerson said Thursday of Myanmar´s first civilian leader in decades.

"This violence must stop. This persecution must stop. It has been characterised by many as ethnic cleansing. That must stop," he said during a visit to London, speaking alongside British counterpart Boris Johnson.

Johnson also called on Myanmar´s de facto leader to use her "moral capital" to highlight the plight of the Rohingyas.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and long-time human rights champion, has been condemned for a lack of moral leadership and compassion in resolving the crisis. Demands of striping her of the Nobel Prize were growing with each day as the crisis in the region intensified.

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