Burma bulldozes dozens of empty Rohingya Muslim villages

Burma bulldozes dozens of empty Rohingya Muslim villages

A lot of them were among more than 300 torched by security forces in August in a wave of violence which saw 688,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh.

Negotiations are underway to have the Rohingya return to Myanmar, but there is extreme concern their safety and well-being is not guaranteed.

Only 22 of the houses were slated for "Bengalis" - the word Myanmar nationalists often use to describe the Rohingya, who they say are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya fled northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched security operations dogged by accusations of significant human rights abuses. Although numerous villages were among the 362 villages that were partially or completely destroyed by security force attacks, at least two of the villages were completely intact before the bulldozing.

Following the discovery of a mass grave in the village of Inn Din in late December, the Myanmar military, however, admitted that members of the security forces and Rakhine villagers had unlawfully killed 10 men and violated the "rules of engagement".

The non-profit Human Rights Watch has said the satellite images reveal that the government has bulldozed dozens of Rohingya settlements.

However, the Myanmar government has claimed that it is trying to rebuild a "devastated region". "How can we be happy about our houses being ripped off from our land?" Myanmar bars independent media access to the state.

Political activities hotting up in coastal Karnataka
A senior leader said that finding a winning candidate in the 100 constituencies, where BJP has not won before, is a big challenge. The latest example of appeasement politics in Karnataka is where son of MLA Haris thrashed a man but there was no FIR.

The Globe and Mail reported that after flying over Rakhine state in a helicopter, Rae said seeing "many, many burnt-out villages and destroyed villages and villages in which there's no sign of human activity whatsoever is-to put it mildly-sobering and ...deeply chilling".

"The United Nations Security Council, the UN and its agencies, and Burmas donors should demand the Burmese government immediately halt the demolition of Rohingya villages, which should be treated as crime scenes that should be preserved until the UN Fact-Finding Mission is given access to the area to carry out investigations", HRW said.

"Everything is wiped away, and this is very concerning, because these are crime scenes".

They were later released around 8:00pm upon taking bonds, said Abul Khair, officer-in-charge of Ukhia Police Station.

Chris Lewa, whose Arakan Project monitors the persecuted minority's plight, said the destruction would make it even harder for the Rohingya, who have no citizenship and few rights, to ever reclaim their land.

According to the report, an estimated 185,000 Rohingya children remain in Myanmar's Rakhine State, fearful of the violence and horror that drove so many of their relatives and neighbours to flee. Myanmar said it had begun building "transit camps" to accommodate returnees, and there were plans to "build new villages".

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