London: 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 last year.
The development has raised questions over the safety of hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingyas due to be repatriated from neighbouring Bangladesh to Myanmar. According to detailed satellite images published by Amnesty International on Monday, it appeared to show “new security infrastructure” replacing the burnt homes of the refugees, after Myanmarese forces launched a brutal campaign against the Rohingyas, which the United Nations has described the violence as “ethnic cleansing”.
Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s crisis response director, said, “The remaking of Rakhine State (in Myanmar) is taking place in a shroud of secrecy. The authorities cannot be allowed to continue their campaign of ethnic cleansing in the name of ‘development’.” Amnesty’s analysis of new satellite imagery appears to prove that at least three new security bases have been built in Rakhine since January, while more were found to be under construction, The Telegraph reported.
Hassan added, “What we are seeing is a land grab by the military on a dramatic scale. New bases are being erected to house the very same security forces that have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingyas.” The images also show new refugee reception centres surrounded by the new security fences and a heavy presence of military forces, raising concerns that Myanmar is preparing to restrict the freedom of the Rohingya refugees returning home to safety.
In January, Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed on a two-year timeframe for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingyas have fled the country in an attempt to escape the atrocities committed by Myanmar’s military forces against the minority community. The process, which was supposed to start from January 22 was delayed as some critics of the deal voiced concerns over the lack of security guarantees for those who would return.
Despite the ongoing preparations for repatriation, more than 2,500 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh this year. According to Bangladesh government’s statistics, an average of 75 Rohingya refugees fled their villages in Myanmar every day between January 1 and February 15.
Rohingyas are a Muslim minority ethnic group in Myanmar. They have been regarded by many majority Buddhists as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. There are more than 3,00,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, who fled in earlier waves of violence from Myanmar since the last three decades.