Myanmar: UN expert calls for accountability over violence

Rohingya Muslims carry their children and belongings after crossing the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh

Amnesty International cited new satellite images and eyewitness testimony as evidence. Myanmar military soldiers are accused of executions, rapes and burning villages as a response to attacks on security outposts by Rohingya insurgents.

The atrocities by the Myanmar security forces drove out some 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh since August 25 past year.

Htin Lynn, permanent representative of Myanmar, told the U.N. Council in Geneva that the upheaval and exodus of the Rohingya from Rakhine State is the fault of terrorist attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation agreement in January that would see hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees returned within two years.

"It's not true that we are deploying the military among houses and among villages", he said, adding that bulldozing is necessary to work on burned land.

Myanmar is allegedly building military bases on the top of razed Rohingya villages, where the Rohingyas once lived before their persecution by the country's security forces in August a year ago.

"There is an increasing amount of credible evidence, including satellite images, which indicates that whole villages that were once home to Rohingya have been bulldozed to the ground", she said.

Spokesperson Colm O'Gorman says it makes it even more hard for refugees to return home.

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Satellite images released by Amnesty International allegedly show military installations, roads and helipads being built over the razed villages in the last few months.

Similar building activity was also detected in Inn Din village, where Myanmar has admitted that its security forces took part in the killings of 10 Rohingya residents in September.

"I am becoming more convinced that the crimes committed following 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 bear the hallmarks of genocide and call in the strongest terms for accountability", said Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

"[Facebook] was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities", she said.

Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees are estimated to be living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where aid and basic supplies remain scarce. "Not only are their homes gone, but the new construction is entrenching the already dehumanising discrimination they have faced in Myanmar".

A top United Nations human rights official had previously said Myanmar's targeting of the Rohingya appears to be "textbook ethnic cleansing".

"This must be aimed at the individuals who gave the orders and carried out violations against individuals and entire ethnic and religious groups", said Lee.

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