Nay Pyi Taw, Oct 17: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday said nearly 300 Rohingya villages have been torched in Myanmar since the current spate of violence began in late August.
The rights group used satellite images to identify 288 partially or completely burned villages in Rakhine state, where tens of thousands of structures were destroyed, reports Efe news. "These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks," Deputy Asia Director of HRW Phil Robertson said. "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." The HRW said that 90 per cent of the affected villages were in the Maungdaw town, adding that Rohingya houses were burned while adjacent areas inhabited by the Rakhine Buddhists were left intact. The report also said that at least 66 villages were burned after September 5, when the government's operation, started after the Rohingya rebel attack on August 25, was declared to be over. According to the UN, more than 530,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee to Bangladesh since the offensive began. More than one million Rohingyas lived in Rakhine prior to the latest round of offensive and had been facing growing persecution since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012, which left at least 160 dead. Myanmar denies citizenship to the Rohingyas, considering them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and imposes multiple restrictions on them, including restrictions on their movements.