Amnesty condemns escalating militarisation in Myanmar’s Rakhine

Nay Pyi Taw: Amnesty International released a report on Monday condemning the escalating militarisation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, from which at least 688,000 people from the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

According to Amnesty, the Myanmar security forces were building bases in the region and bulldozing all the buildings in the villages where the Rohingya, now refugees in Bangladesh, had previously lived, reports Efe news.

In the report titled “Remaking Rakhine State”, Amnesty has revealations by witness testimony, expert analysis and satellite images the progress of the military’s construction, which intensified in January.

At least three new military camps have been established in the north of the region, where around one million Rohingya had lived until 2016.

“What we are seeing in Rakhine state is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale. New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya,” Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s crisis response director, said in a statement.

The wave of the Rohingya exodus began after an assault by an insurgent group of this minority on security forces on August 25, 2017, which provoked the Myanmar military to launch a brutal crackdown against them through all kinds of abuses, including executions, rapes and burning of houses.

According to Doctors without Borders (MSF), some 6,700 Rohingya have died during the military retaliation campaigns.

Despite the fact that military operations have declined, the campaigns to banish the Rohingya from Myanmar and to prevent their return continue.

“Myanmar’s authorities are erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely difficult (…) New roads and structures are being built over burned Rohingya villages and land, making it even less likely for refugees to return to their homes,” Tirana said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to begin repatriating the refugees at the end of January, but Dhaka suspended it at the last minute.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as its citizens, arguing they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which has led to continued discrimination against the Rohingya community as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement.