Published: Mon, February 26, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

Bangladesh accelerates plan to put Rohingya refugees on isolated island

Bangladesh accelerates plan to put Rohingya refugees on isolated island

The Rohingya crisis faces an intractable future, with Bangladesh struggling to cope with the influx of people, no obvious third-country resettlement options, and a population too scarred by violence against them to consider returning.

Human Rights Watch says the number of villages wrecked is at least 55.

On January 12, Burmese state media reported that eight backhoes and four bulldozers had begun clearing areas of northern Rakhine State on January 7 in locations where the government had announced repatriated refugees from Bangladesh would be processed and temporarily located.

Myanmar's government is bulldozing Rohingya villages and destroying precious evidence, according to a rights groups.

Since August more than 650,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh where they live in camps on near the border.

Aerial photographs of the damage were first made public on 9 February when the European Union's ambassador to Myanmar, Kristian Schmidt, posted images taken from an aircraft of what he described as a "vast bulldozed area" south of the town of Maungdaw.

Last week, the United States urged the UN Security Council to hold Myanmar's military accountable for what it said was the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. Those unable or unwilling to return to their homes have the right to choose compensation from the government for their loss of homes and property.

The two had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were buried in a mass grave in Rakhine State after being hacked to death or shot by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbours and soldiers. Myanmar has repeatedly blocked United Nations investigators and rights groups from the region, making any investigation into crimes against humanity all the more hard.

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At the time Myanmar's Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye said the demolition was part of a plan to "build back" villages to a higher standard than before.

Human Rights Watch said the apparent destruction of homes erases evidence for legal claims from the exiled Rohingya.

There is widespread prejudice against the Rohingya because they are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although they are long-time settlers.

The conference will be joined by global scholars, human rights activists and Rohingya lobbyists based outside of Myanmar.

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

The U.S. and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Myanmar military officers, including Major General Maung Maung Soe, head of the Myanmar Army's Western Command, who led the military's brutal crackdown on the Rohingya.

"Government and allied forces, including Russian Federation, carried out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects using aerial and artillery bombing, including with chemical and other internationally banned weapons, killing and injuring hundreds", Amnesty's report says.

The Unicef has sought urgent efforts to help more than 720,000 Rohingya children who are threatened either by the approaching cyclone season in Bangladesh or by ongoing violence and denial of their basic rights in Myanmar, reports UNB.

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