HRW said satellite images revealed that the government has bulldozed dozens of Rohingya settlements and added that they should be preserved as "crime scenes" to investigate allegations of atrocities against the military, reports the BBC.
Satellite images show that Myanmar's government has been bulldozing the villages of minority Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal military crackdown a year ago, Human Rights Watch said Friday.
"Since late 2017, the Burmese government has cleared at least 55 villages of all structures and vegetation using heavy machinery", the release said.
"They want to make it hard to find graves, weapons used or any other evidence that would connect the crime scene to the criminals", Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, told DW. Since late past year, some of those villages - and at least two previously intact settlements - had been flattened, it said.
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"Ministers will call on [Federica] Mogherini to propose restrictive measures on senior members of the Myanmar military for systematic human rights abuses, without delay", one diplomat said on Thursday, referring to European Union sanctions. Satellite imagery reviewed by Human Rights Watch suggests that the demolitions are ongoing. This was followed by a pause of approximately one month.
On Friday, he told RFA's Myanmar Service that the demolitions reported by HRW are part of the region's overall reconstruction plan for for returning refugees. The Rohingya believe the government is intentionally eviscerating the remnants of their culture to make it almost impossible for them to return.
The State Counsellor Office Information Committee said on December 1 that the government had built houses in over 20 villages across Rakhine State. He met with leader Aung San Suu Kyi and found her resisting calls for an worldwide investigation. The governments of Burma and Bangladesh have concluded several agreements that outline the intention and process by which refugees in Bangladesh could be returned to Burma.
The crisis in Rakhine state began in August after Rohingya insurgents launched a string of unprecedented attacks on security posts.
Earlier this month the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, urged caution on a controversial plan to repatriate the Rohingya refugess, which was put on hold due to logistical concerns last month.
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The Rohingya population there has been living in what Amnesty International has described as apartheid-like conditions for decades: They don't have citizenship rights and do not have freedom of movement in the country. "There's been no credible investigation of these crimes".
"If the Rohingya refugees were forced to return to Myanmar, they would be at the mercy of the same military that drove them out and would continue to face the entrenched system of discrimination and segregation amounting to apartheid that made them so vulnerable in the first place", the report says. A Burmese investigation that concluded in November found no violations or abuses by the security forces.
"I think the figure increased as we held many promotional events, and the government has allowed tourists to travel previously restricted areas", U Myint Htwe, deputy director general at the ministry, said in an interview. The Burmese government has refused to grant visas for a United Nations fact-finding mission and has blocked independent access to the Northern Rakhine state.
Myanmar state media reported in January that eight excavators and four bulldozers were working in the area.
"Deliberately demolishing villages to destroy evidence of grave crimes is obstruction of justice", said Adams.
Mitchell gets 3.5 inches of snow; 3-5 inches forecasted Saturday
A high in the low 20's will be in effect with increased winds up to 20-30mph today as the pressure gradient tightens. The forecast calls for clear skies on Friday but another chance of snow for the weekend and into next week.