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'Myanmar builds military bases in Rohingya homes, mosques'

12 March 2018

In a new report, the global human rights group claims, with the help of satellite images and witness accounts, Myanmar's military has been bulldozing the remains of torched villages to make way for new infrastructure in the Rakhine state, where the majority of the estimated 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar used to reside.

Burma's military is building installations on land in villages that had been occupied by Muslim Rohingya who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after their homes were burned down in what analysts charge was a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the authorities, Amnesty International has said.

But Amnesty International said the flattening of Rohingya villages and the new construction could make the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees a distant prospect.

The report comes on the heels of a similar investigation published by Human Rights Watch in February, in which the organization alleged Myanmar's forces were demolishing Rohingya villages in order to erase any proof of human rights abuses that may have been committed in Rakhine.

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Amnesty said Myanmar's "reshaping" of the region where the Rohingya lived appeared to be created to accommodate more security forces and non-Rohingya villagers, and could deter refugees from agreeing to return. "Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in Myanmar".

Nearly six months after launching the military operation, Myanmar's military has admitted to only killing 10 captured Rohingya men, who, it claims, were "terrorists".

Satellite imagery released by Amnesty on Monday as part of itsRemaking Rakhine State report suggests that abandoned Muslim villages are rapidly being cleared and replaced by government infrastructure, with the region becoming "militarised at an alarming pace".

Amnesty International's latest research reveals how whole villages of burned Rohingya houses have been bulldosed since January.

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The United Nations and the United States have called it "ethnic cleansing". The landscape has become "virtually unrecognisable" in many areas, the report said.

A man walks past the entrance of a camp set up by Myanmar's Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister to prepare for the repatriation of displaced Rohingyas, who fled to Bangladesh, outside Maungdaw in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar January 24, 2018. The images also show new refugee reception centres surrounded by security fences. Most rely on aid for their basic needs.

"We are going to build new villages and new homes and resettle people there according to the village planning", Zaw Htay said by phone.

"The remaking of Rakhine State is taking place in a shroud of secrecy".

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The global community, and in particular each donor state, has a duty to ensure that any investment or assistance it provides does not contribute to human rights violations.

'Myanmar builds military bases in Rohingya homes, mosques'