Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Myanmar building military bases where Rohingya homes, mosques once stood: Amnesty

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Sammy Stanley | 12 March, 2018, 16:39

Amnesty International on Monday accused the Myanmar military of "land grabbing" for construction of its bases in Rakhine State after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to avoid violence. "New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya". The operation against Rohingya, to whom Myanmar, of Buddhist majority, considers illegal immigrants Bangladeshi despite carrying centuries living in Rakhine (formerly called Arakan), began on August 25, 2017, following several attacks of army of Salvation Rohingya of Arakan (ARSA) against security posts in Rakhine.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in November to begin repatriating Rohingya who volunteered to return to Rakhine state where the persecuted Muslim minority have lived for generations.But the process has stalled and it is not clear when it will begin, said Bangladesh's refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam.

"In some instances there has been the destruction of existing homes".

United Nations officials said Sunday that almost $1 billion will be needed this year to feed and care for the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded camps in southeastern Bangladesh.

The UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour last week said that "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya was continuing in Rakhine State through a "campaign of terror and forced starvation" intending to drive the remaining Rohingya population into Bangladesh.

While Myanmar's government hasn't officially commented on the latest report, Amnesty cited a statement from officials, according to which the villages are being bulldozed to accommodate returning refugees.

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Marion Koopmans, WHO adviser, said, "The intensity of animal and human contact is becoming much greater as the world develops". However, it also warned that these pathogens still pose a serious risk to public health, and should be "watched carefully".

Though admitting the images only paint a partial picture, Amnesty said structures for security forces, helipads and even roads have been built in and around torched Rohingya properties.

In Kan Kya village, for example - burned down between August and November previous year - homes and at least two mosques were demolished to make way for a new security force base.

"People are in a panic", one refugee in Bangladesh, who fled his village in January, told the rights watchdog.

Spokesperson Colm O'Gorman says it makes it even more hard for refugees to return home.

Zaw Htay, a government spokesman, said the government was not basing military forces in residential areas but that police stations were part of village construction plans. "As this region is behind in development, we are rebuilding systematically".

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