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Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses Myanmar Army of burning hundreds of houses in Rohingya Muslim minority Villages

Both the army and the government denied the accusations and instead blamed the attacks on Rohingya militants

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A house on fire (Representational image). Pixabay
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Nay Pyi Taw, December 13, 2016: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused the Myanmar army of burning hundreds of houses in the Rohingya Muslim minority villages where a massive military offensive has been ongoing for over two months.

The rights group, with the help of satellite images, said 1,500 houses were burnt by the army in the northern Rakhine state, EFE news reported.

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The army’s offensive followed an attack on October 9 against police border posts, allegedly by Rohingya insurgents.

The group said the pattern of torching houses coincided with the advance of the soldiers and their deployment in the villages.

The torching in three cases took place after alleged attacks by insurgents and suggests “a reprisal element”, the report said.

It included the testimony of 10 Rohingya refugees, who fled towards Bangladesh due to the violence and witnessed soldiers setting houses on fire.

The report strengthens claims by local activists who accuse the army of carrying out killings, rapes and looting in the area which has been closed off to humanitarian aid organisations, observers and the media.

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According to the UN, around 150,000 people were dependent on humanitarian aid for food and money before the armed attacks and subsequent military operation by the army, which has prompted at least 21,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

Both the army and the government denied the accusations and instead blamed the attacks on Rohingya militants.

HRW also urged the Myanmar authorities to open up the affected region to humanitarian aid and observers, following similar pleas by the UN and 14 diplomatic missions in the country in recent days.

Rakhine is home to more than a million Rohingyas, a community not recognised as citizens in the country and often shunned as Bangladeshi immigrants.

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Around 120,000 of them live severely restricted lives in 67 camps since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012 when at least 160 people died.

The sectarian conflict in Rakhine is one of the main challenges facing the Aung San Suu Kyi administration, the first democratic one in the country in over half a century. (IANS)

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U.S.A: Myanmar’s Military Campaign Against Rohingya Muslims a ‘Mass Genocide’

Lawyers for the reporters said their clients were set up and have appealed their sentences and convictions.

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Rohingya
Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution by a vote of 394-1 Thursday, declaring Myanmar’s military campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority a genocide.

A United Nations report released in August said the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes with “genocidal intent” and also definitively called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges for the first time.

Rohingya Growing

Myanmar’s military has denied previous accusations it had committed genocide, maintaining its actions were part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

Rohingya, Violence
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The atrocities have prompted the U.N. and a number of political and human rights leaders to question the southeast Asian country’s progress toward democracy.

The Burma Task Force, a coalition of U.S. and Canadian Muslim organizations, applauded the genocide designation.

“The House of Representatives has now officially adopted the position that the ongoing policies of mass violence and displacement against the Rohingya by the Myanmar government constitute genocide, bringing the U.S. closer to the emerging international consensus on the issue.

The U.S. State Department usually makes such official designations but has not used the term genocide to describe the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence,asylum
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The House resolution also called on the Myanmar government to release Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were jailed one year ago.

Also Read: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Under Fire For Myanmar Tweets

They were sentenced in September to seven years in prison for violating the country’s colonial-era Secrets Act. Lawyers for the reporters said their clients were set up and have appealed their sentences and convictions.

The Myanmar embassy in Washington did not immediately comment on the House vote. (VOA)