(New York, December 18, 2017) – Analysis of satellite imagery reveals new destruction of Rohingya villages during October and November 2017 in northern Rakhine State in Burma, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch 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. During this period, thousands more Rohingya refugees fled Burma and arrived in Bangladesh.
Satellite imagery confirms that dozens of buildings were burned the same week Burma and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding on November 23 to begin returning refugees in Bangladesh within two months. On November 25, satellite data detected an active fire and building destruction in Myo Mi Chang village in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township. Four villages suffered building destruction between November 25 and December 2.
“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.”
Human Rights Watch has used satellite imagery to assess and monitor over 1,000 villages and towns in the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathiduang, where the Burmese military and vigilantes have engaged in attacks on Rohingya. Human Rights Watch found that the damage patterns in the 354 affected villages are consistent with burning occurring in the weeks after the military operations began in late August.
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