Dhaka, 18 Dec, Abnews: Satellite imagery analysis reveals new destruction of Rohingya villages during October and November 2017 in northern Rakhine State in Burma, Human Rights Watch revealed on Monday.
The global rights body identified 40 villages with building destruction occurring in October and November, increasing the total to 354 villages that have been partially or completely destroyed since August 25, 2017.
“The Burmese army’s destruction of Rohingya villages within days of signing a refugee repatriation agreement with Bangladesh shows that commitments to safe returns were just a public relations stunt,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“The satellite imagery shows what the Burmese army denies: that Rohingya villages continue to be destroyed. Burmese government pledges to ensure the safety of returning Rohingya cannot be taken seriously.”
Of the 40 new villages with building destruction, 24 were destroyed in October, 11 in November, and 5 over both months.
Satellite data from environmental sensors detected an active fire at 12:30 pm in the Rohingya village of Myo Mi Chang in Maungdaw Township on November 25, two days after Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding on November 23 to begin returning refugees in Bangladesh within two months.
The latest documented arson attacks occurred between November 25 and December 2 in four villages.
Human Rights Watch has found that this campaign of ethnic cleansing amounts to crimes against humanity.
Attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) armed group on 30 security force outposts and an army base that killed 11 Burmese security personnel set off the Burmese military "clearance operations" against the Rohingya.
In November, a Burmese army "investigation team" report concluded that there were "no deaths of innocent people" during the military operation in Rakhine State, and that at least 376 "terrorists" were killed during fighting, contrary to information reported by the UN, media outlets, and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.
However, humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on December 14 concluded that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the violence, over 700 of whom were children, based on survey data of refugees in Bangladesh.
"The UN Security Council and concerned governments shouldn't continue to stand by as evidence of continuing attacks on the Rohingya community comes to light," Adams said.
"Targeted sanctions need to be imposed now against those responsible for ordering and carrying out crimes against humanity."