Amnesty Says Rohingya Crisis Result of a Society 'Encouraged to Hate'

Myanmar monks from the hardline Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha and their supporters denounce a U.S. statement about Rohingya Muslims who died in a boat accident at a rally outside the American embassy in Yangon

Myanmar's government, for its part, says the Rohingya - whom it calls "Bengalis" - burned their own homes as they left their villages.

Now, Myanmar's government is using bulldozers to literally erase them from the earth - in a vast operation rights groups say is destroying crucial evidence of mass atrocities against the nation's ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that work on the project had accelerated in recent months as a group of foreign engineers were providing assistance to the Bangladeshi government for the preparation of Bhashan Char Island - also known as Thenger Char - to receive refugees before the onset of monsoon rains in April.

But Myanmar has also destroyed a total of 362 villages in six months, which, HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams said is nothing short of destroying evidence of crimes.

A similar analysis by the Human Rights Watch said at least 55 villages have been levelled so far.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since then, making it what the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls "the world's fastest growing refugee crisis".

The satellite images show that the initial demolition of heavily damaged or destroyed buildings in northern Rakhine State began in Maungdaw town in November 2017.

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Last week, the United States urged the UN Security Council to hold Myanmar's military accountable for what it said was the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

So far, Myanmar has refused to allow United Nations investigators from conducting an worldwide probe into the mass graves reported by global press agencies and denounced by human rights organizations. Myanmar bars independent media access to Rakhine state.

"We will repatriate [the refugees] immediately after we complete verification", he said, adding that Myanmar was ready to accept as many as 300 refugees a day on both land and river routes once verification is completed. "Instead, leaders such as (Egyptian president) al-Sisi, (Philippines president) Duterte, (Venezuelan president) Maduro, Putin, Trump, and (Chinese president) Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions", Amnesty International's secretary-general Salil Shetty said.

"Everything is wiped away, and this is very concerning, because these are crime scenes", he said.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR, which was not involved in the talks, has expressed concern the Rohingya may be forced back to Myanmar without due consideration for their safety. The Burmese government has failed to credibly investigate serious alleged abuses committed by security forces since August 25, which Human Rights Watch has found the amount to crimes against humanity.

Zubairia, who asked that only one of her names be used to protect her identify because she feared reprisals, said she did not believe any of the newly constructed homes were intended for Rohingya.

Urgent efforts are needed to help the refugees who are threatened either by the approaching cyclone season or by ongoing violence and denial of their basic rights in Myanmar, the UNICEF said in a report published on Friday.

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