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Myanmar militarizes the area from which the persecuted Rohingya fled

Amnesty International denounces the Burmese army's occupation of Rohingya lands

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Myanmar militarizes the area from which the persecuted Rohingya fled

Myanmar has increased "dramatically" militarization of state of Rakhine (west of country), which since last August have fled more than 670,000 Rohingya due to a campaign of unpublished persecution by Burmese army. According to a report by Amnesty International (AI) made public on Monday, military bases, heliports and roads have been built in area of origin of Muslim minority, which raises even more doubts about viability of a repatriation plan that It should have started last January.

The village demolitions and evictions of Rohingya that are still in Rakhine — it is estimated that by August y lived around one million — to give room to new constructions have multiplied since beginning of year, says AI. Called Remaking Rakhine and elaborated through analysis of satellite images, photographs, videos and interviews with Rohingya in Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladésh, where y flee, report assures that landscape of that Burmese western state, with Not only houses, but also trees and vegetation devastated, is "unrecognizable" in contrast to a few months ago.

According to this organization's report, which is in line with previous Human Rights Watch research, satellite images confirm construction of at least three military bases in norrn Rakhine. They also show how new refugee centres, originally built to house Rohingya returning from Bangladésh, are encircled and monitored by strong military contingents. "This makes voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees an even farr perspective. Not only have ir homes been destroyed, but new constructions dehumanize even more discrimination y already suffered, "says Hassan.

"Myanmar's Authorities (formerly Burma) are destroying evidence of crimes against humanity, making it extremely difficult to make any attempt to get culprits to respond for ir actions," said AI's Tirana Hassan.

Last Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, raised tone against systematic attacks suffered by Rohingya in Myanmar, ensuring "strong suspicion" that se are "acts of genocide". 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. In response, Burmese army — Tatmada — launched an unprecedented campaign of magnitude against Rohingya, which includes burning of more than 350 villages, group rapes, and an uncertain number of murders of men, women, and children.

In just one month, about half a million Rohingya randomly crossed border with Bangladésh, where y live scattered between makeshift refugee camps and two or permanents that are saturated. It is estimated that total number of refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladeshi district adjoining Myanmar to which y arrive, is around million, if y add up to about 300,000 who already lived re due to previous waves of violence.

In a speech in front of UN Human Rights Council, Zeid said Rohingya are still fleeing Myanmar because "systematic" violence, albeit less intense, persists. Mohammad Rafique, a Rohingya who works with several NGOs and media from Cox's Bazar, says flow of refugees has declined, but continues. "Only 51 have arrived today, which are still at border checkpoints and will be transferred to a temporary camp in Teknaf [Cox's Bazaar]," he warns.

Far repatriation

The uncertain situation in Rakhine furr hinders repatriation plans of Rohingya fled since August that Bangladésh and Myanmar agreed last November, and that in principle y should have started in January of this year. "What we are seeing in Rakhine is an occupation of land by military on a dramatic scale. They are building centers to house same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya, "says Hassan of AI.

The repatriation plan, postponed at moment, fits into a three-step roadmap raised by China, Myanmar's largest trading partner and Bangladésh. The last step of Beijing initiative, which invests in projects of a different nature in Rakhine, is to find a long-term solution based on developing state, one of most depauperados in country. Myanmar, which impedes entry into Rakhine of independent UN researchers or human rights organizations, has in past argued that its need to reinforce security and invest in infrastructure in that area responds to need to make In face of threat posed by ARSA, which it considers a terrorist group.

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