Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Scorched Earth Policy Against Rohingya Muslims

Satellite images of apparent burning

Myanmar’s president Thein Sein has admitted to the extent of ethnic and religious cleansing that is sweeping the country’s western Rakhine state:
“There have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state,” said a presidential spokesman. “If necessary we will send more troops to restore stability.”
The United Nations stated that:

More than 22,000 people from mainly Muslim communities have been forced to flee their homes in western Myanmar

“It is mainly the Muslims who have been displaced,” he said, adding that 21,700 of those made homeless were Muslims.

In Minbya, one of around eight townships hit by the fighting, a senior police official told AFP that more than 4,000 people, mainly Muslims, had been made homeless after hundreds of properties in six villages were torched.

Other Muslims in Rakhine state have also been swept up in the latest violence, activists said.
“It is not just the Rohingya who are targeted, it is Muslims in general, particularly Kamans, who are a recognized minority and have the citizenship,” said Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project which campaigns for Rohingya rights.
Human Rights Watch says the images show that more than 800 buildings and houseboats were burned to the ground in Kyaukpyu, in western Rakhine state.

It says the victims were mostly Muslim Rohingyas, targeted by non-Muslims.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the violence showed that Burma's government "urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya" in Rakhine state, which is also known as Arakan.
"Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse," said Mr Robertson.
The US-based group compared satellite images of the Kyaukpyu district taken on 9 and 25 October.

On 9 October, hundreds of closely packed houses can be clearly seen in rows along the peninsula - which sits at the mouth of an inlet - as well as scores of houseboats along the northern shoreline.
But in the image taken on Thursday, few boats remain and the 35-acre district is almost entirely empty of houses.
HRW said many of the inhabitants are thought to have fled by boat out to sea.
A local reporter who visited the site told the BBC's Burmese service the area had been completely destroyed, with some buildings still smouldering. The reporter said the district was also almost totally deserted.

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