Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government in Myanmar has destroyed as many as 1,250 residential structures belonging to minority Rohingya Muslims in the country just over the past 6 weeks.
The US-based rights body made the announcement in a statement on Monday, adducing high-definition satellite images from the western state of Rakhine.
“These alarming new satellite images confirm that the destruction in Rohingya villages is far greater and in more places than the government has admitted,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director.
Last week, government spokesman Zaw Htay criticized international media and the HRW for what he called their exaggeration of the damage after the body released an initial set of satellite imagery showing that the military had destroyed 430 buildings in three villages.
The 1.1 million-strong Rohingya community, which the government brands as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, has been suffering widely-reported systematic aggression for years on end. The violence has been interpreted as an attempt to force them out of the country’s demographic configuration.
Government-allied Buddhist extremists have been waging communal violence in Rakhine, where the Rohingyas are concentrated, since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands forced from their homes as a result.
In addition, the state has been under a military lockdown that came with a “counterinsurgency” push since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9. Nine police officers were killed in that attack, which the government blamed on armed Rohingyas.
Referring to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, Adams, the HRW official, said, “After six weeks of violence with virtually no aid reaching tens of thousands of highly vulnerable people, the government needs to act decisively to assist them.”
“A government with nothing to hide should have no problem granting access to journalists and human rights investigators,” he, said, urging an impartial investigation by the United Nations (UN) into the brutality perpetrated against the Muslims in Myanmar.