Monday, 18 June, 2018

Myanmar bulldozes 55 Rohingya villages

Rushanara 100 British MPs for ICC referral for Myanmar military British lawmakers call for referral of Myanmar's military leaders to ICC
Diane Mills | 26 February, 2018, 09:52

Myanmar's efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees, which began in earnest a month ago, have been criticized by the United Nations, foreign governments and global aid groups.

The Myanmar government has cleared at least 55 Rohingya villages of all structures and vegetation, including scenes of atrocities, in an operation to destroy the evidence of crimes against humanity, the Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The UN refugee agency has also been excluded from a Rohingya refugee repatriation process organised by Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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

The human rights group said in its annual report covering 159 countries that "hate-filled rhetoric" by leaders was normalising discrimination against minorities.

The report stated that over 534,000 Rohingya children are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, while almost 185,000 Rohingya children remain in Myanmar's Rakhine state, subjected to ongoing violence.

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Myanmar's parliament has approved a budget of about $15 million for the construction of a fence and related projects along the border with Bangladesh in Rakhine state, from which about 700,000 members of its persecuted ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority have fled violence since last August. As satellite photographs show, a return home might be simply impossible.

But, HRW says, bulldozing these areas threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingyas who lived there. The demolition has raised deep concern among human rights advocates as according to them the government is destroying evidence before any credible investigation takes place.

The Rohingya, described by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. Myanmar bars independent media access to the state. But that does not appear to be the case for the majority of those built or planned so far, and many Rohingya fear authorities are seizing land they've lived on for generations.

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

Worldwide law provides that refugees and internally displaced persons who were arbitrarily or unlawfully deprived of their homes, lands, properties, or places of habitual residence have the right to return to their place of residence or choice, and the return of their property.

More than 6,500 Rohingya are now trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Burmese government has failed to credibly investigate serious alleged abuses committed by security forces since August 25, which Human Rights Watch has found the amount to crimes against humanity. "Of course we have been using machines like earth removers and bulldozers because we have to clear the ground first before building new houses", he said. "The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship".

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