NEW analysis of satellite imagery over Rakhine State in Burma (Myanmar) shows that at least 214 Rohingya Muslim villages have been burnt down in recent weeks, as more than 400,000 people have fled as refugees to Bangladesh.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday that detailed satellite imagery, made newly available because of the clearing of Monsoon cloud over the weekend, revealed “destruction from burning much greater than previously known.”
Images show tens of thousands of homes destroyed, with more than 90 percent of buildings in the 214 villages damaged. HRW says the images corroborate accounts of arson, looting and killing by the army and vigilante groups from its interviews with Rohingya refugees.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, more than 400,000 people have fled Burma into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in recent weeks.
Violence in Rakhine State was provoked by Aug 25 attacks on security forces by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group. However, the Tatmadaw military of Burma has been accused of a disproportionate response involving attacks on Rohingya civilians.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last week said the situation appeared to be a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) September 18, 2017
HRW on Monday called for the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution condemning Burma’s “ethnic cleansing” and for the Security Council to impose a “comprehensive arms embargo” against the country.
“These images provide shocking evidence of massive destruction in an apparent attempt by Burmese security forces to prevent the Rohingya from returning to their villages,” HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.
The Burmese government denies the allegations and claims Rohingya are burning their own homes.
“World leaders meeting at the UN should act to end this mounting crisis and show Burma’s military leaders they will pay a price for such atrocities,” said Robertson.
As the UN General Assembly meets in New York this week, western powers have pressured Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to push for an end to violence against the Rohingya. Widely criticised for her silence on the issue, Suu Kyi will present a national address on Tuesday.
Britain, France and Australia on Monday urged the State Counsellor to take action. “We expect from Mrs Aung Sang Suu Kyi tomorrow a strong statement in this direction,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told reporters in New York, as quoted by Reuters.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it is the “last chance” for Suu Kyi to “reverse the situation” and “make sure the carnage stops.”