HRW says Myanmar military burned Rohingya villages

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NEW YORK, Dec 13 (APP): Human Rights Watch says evidence shows
Myanmar’s military is behind the torching of villages belonging to persecuted Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, and urged the government to allow aid agencies and media into the restive region.

On Tuesday, the New York-based rights body released Satellite imagery
and interviews with witnesses, saying at least 1,500 buildings have been destroyed since October 2015 in Rakhine, home to a large number of Rohingya Muslims.

“The new findings refute the Burmese ( Myanmarese) military and
government’s claims that Rohingya militants were responsible for burning down their own villages,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a news release. “The satellite imagery and eyewitness interviews clearly point the finger at the military for setting these buildings ablaze.”

The news release further said the exact number of burnt houses
could be higher as dense jungles in the region might have concealed some destroyed buildings, adding the pattern of burnings suggests a ‘systematic building destruction’ had been on Naypyidaw’s agenda.

“It’s difficult to believe that militants burned down over 300
buildings in Wa Peik over a one-month period while Burmese security forces stood there and watched,” Adams said. “Burmese (Myanmarese) government officials have been caught out by this satellite imagery, and it’s time they recognize their continued denials lack credibility.”

Last week the United Nations special adviser on Myanmar criticized
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her handling of the crisis, which had “caused frustration locally and disappointment internationally.”

Rakhine has also been the scene of communal violence at the hands of
Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from homes and live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The minority has been particularly under a military lockdown since an
alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9, which left nine police officers dead. The government accused the Rohingya of being behind the assault. There have been reports of rape, murder, and arson against the Muslim population in the state.

Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong
population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

However, many believe the Rohingya are a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.

On Thursday, the UN called on Suu Kyi to take action to end the brutal
military crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine, urging her to reassure civilians they will be protected by the government amid allegations that soldiers have raped Rohingya Muslim women, burnt houses and killed civilians.