MNA Exclusive Desk: Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday reported destruction of tens of thousands of structures in Myanmar, which are primarily homes inhabited by ethnic Rohingya Muslims.
Referring to some newly released satellite images, the rights group said at least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state since 25 August 2017.
HRW analysis says the burnings took place after the Myanmar officials claimed security force “clearance operations” had ceased.
The images show at least 66 villages were burned after 5 September, when security force operations supposedly ended, according to a 18 September speech by state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Myanmar military responded to reported attacks on 25 August by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) with a campaign of ethnic cleansing, prompting more than 530,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
“These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The Burmese military destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages while committing killings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity that forced Rohingya to flee for their lives.”
A total of 866 villages in Maungdaw, Rathedaung, and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine state were monitored and analysed by Human Rights Watch.
The most damage occurred in Maungdaw township, accounting for approximately 90 per cent of the areas where destruction happened between 25 August and 25 September.
Approximately 62 per cent of all villages in the township were either partially or completely destroyed, and southern areas of the township were particularly hard hit, with approximately 90 percent of the villages devastated, reported news agency.