International Human Rights Groups Call for independent Inquiry as Reports of Ethnic Cleansing Emerge as Thousands of Rohingya Flee Burma

United Nation sources estimates that as many as 30,000 Rohingya have fled Burma for Bangladesh. Media reports from Bangladesh put the numbers closer to 70,000. The Rohingya from Burma’s Rakhine state in the west of the country are estimated to be just over a million in total with an estimated 400,000 taking refuge in Bangladesh.

The New York based Human Rights Watch in statement late last week said “…satellite imagery shows several hundred buildings burned in Burma’s Rakhine State.”

Human Rights Watch said “imagery from the Rohingya Muslim village of Chein Khar Li in Rathedaung township shows 700 buildings burned, a near total destruction of the village.”

Human Rights Watch said that the “Burmese government should urgently grant access to independent monitors to determine the sources of fires and assess allegations of serious human rights violations made by ethnic Rohingya refugees who have fled into neighboring Bangladesh.”

Human Rights Watch stated that its “analysis indicates that the large areas shown as burnt in the satellite imagery means it is very likely the burning was deliberate. Given the current monsoon weather conditions in Rakhine State, it would have been very difficult to set fire to such a significant number of buildings. The scale of the fire destruction suggests that burnings either were done with significant numbers of people or over a significant period of time to carry out this widespread degree of burning.”

Human Rights Watch in a released media statement said it had evidence of “burnings taking place at 17 separate sites across northern Rakhine state between August 25 and 30, 2017. Those burnings followed a series of coordinated attacks by ethnic Rohingya militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on the morning of August 25, 2017 against dozens of Burmese government police stations and checkpoints, government offices, and an army base.”

Human Rights Watch said that the “Burmese government has blamed the setting of fires on ARSA militants and Rohingya villagers who the government claims set fire to their own homes. The government has not provided any evidence to support these allegations, nor did they ever prove similar allegations made by the government during the burning of Rohingya areas between October 2016 and December 2016. Human Rights Watch and others determined that Burmese security forces deliberately set those fires.”

Mark Farmaner, the Director of Burma Campaign UK supported a statement from the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemning the violence against the Rohingya but criticized the British government for its continued funding of the Burma Army.

“Boris Johnson is right to call for action by Aung San Suu Kyi, but why has he let Min Aung Hlaing, head of the Burmese military, off the hook. Min Aung Hlaing’s soldiers are the ones killing hundreds of Rohingya and he is the only person in Burma with the power to order soldiers to stop attacking Rohingya villagers, shooting children and burning families alive in their homes. It’s time Britain stopped training the Burmese Army, which is committing crimes against humanity.”

Mr Farmaner pointed out that the “British government spent more than £300,000 last year on providing free training to the Burmese Army. 67% of that spending came from the aid budget.”

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