Human Rights Watch says evidence shows Myanmar’s military is behind the torching of villages belonging to persecuted Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, urging the government to allow aid agencies and media into the troubled region.
On Tuesday, the New York-based rights body released Satellite imagery and interviews with witnesses, saying at least 1,500 buildings have been destroyed since October 2015 in Rakhine, home to a large number of Rohingya Muslims.
“The new findings refute the Myanmarese military and government’s claims that Rohingya militants were responsible for burning down their own villages,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at the rights group.
“The satellite imagery and eyewitness interviews clearly point the finger at the military for setting these buildings ablaze,” he added.
The statement further said that the exact number of burnt houses could be higher as dense jungles in the region might have concealed some destroyed buildings, adding that the pattern of burnings suggests a “systematic building destruction” had been on Naypyidaw’s agenda.
“It’s difficult to believe that militants burned down over 300 buildings” in just one particular area over a one-month time span “while Myanmarese security forces stood there and watched,” Adams noted, adding, “Myanmarese government officials have been caught out by this satellite imagery, and it’s time they recognize their continued denials lack credibility.”
On Monday, AFP cited an unnamed diplomat as saying that Myanmar had called for an emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to find a solution for the Rohingya Muslims crisis.