New satellite images and videos from Myanmar’s Rakhine state show smoke rising from Rohingya Muslim villages, contradicting State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims that military operations there have ended, according to Amnesty International.
In a statement late Friday, the London-based group said its sources in Rakhine have claimed that the fires, captured in images on Friday afternoon, were started by members of the Myanmar security forces and vigilante mobs, reports the Guardian.
The latest violence in Myanmar has sent an estimated 429,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh in less than a month.
“This damning evidence from the ground and from space flies in the face of Aung Suu Kyi’s assertions to the world,” Tirana Hasan, Amnesty’s director of crisis response, said.
“Rohingya homes and villages continue to burn, before, during and after their inhabitants take flight in terror. Not satisfied with simply forcing Rohingya from their homes, authorities seem intent on ensuring they have no homes to return to.”
Most of those fleeing have ended up in camps in the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar, which already had hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who had fled prior rounds of violence in Myanmar.
The latest violence began when a Rohingya insurgent group attacked police checkposts on August 25, that left 12 security personnel dead, the Guardian reported.
The fleeing Rohingya have described indiscriminate attacks by security forces and Buddhist mobs.
The Myanmar government has blamed the Rohingya, saying they set fire to their own homes, but the UN and others have accused it of ethnic cleansing.
Rohingya have faced persecution and discrimination in majority-Buddhist Myanmar for decades and are denied citizenship, even though many families have lived there for generations.
The government says there is no such ethnicity as Rohingya and that they are Bengalis who illegally migrated to Myanmar from Bangladesh. (Agencies)