Myanmar: Whole villages destroyed as satellite spots devastation from above

Sep 7, 2017 by

GRAPHIC details are filtering through of violent massacres in towns that have been cut off from the modern day world. WARNING: Graphic

‘They’re slaughtering us’: Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar

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A SATELLITE map has unearthed the charred remains of entire communities as terrified residents claim they are the targets of a new-world genocide.

“Some people were beheaded, and many were cut. We were in the house hiding when [armed residents from a neighbouring village] were beheading people. When we saw that, we just ran out the back of the house,” said Sultan Ahmed, a 27-year-old man from the former Chut Pyin village in Myanmar.

Sultan is among a group of 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims that are often described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”.

Rohingya people have lived for centuries in the western state of Rakhine, in Myanmar, but for decades have been persecuted by the Myanmar government. They are not considered among the country’s 135 official ethnic groups. The country has even denied them citizenship since 1982 and the state is one of the poorest in the country.

On August 27, it is alleged Myanmar state security forces and local armed-residents committed mass killings of Rohingya Muslim men, women and children. The military unleashed what it called “clearance operations”. Myanmar’s army chief justified the slaughter as “unfinished business”.

“The killing spree lasted for approximately five hours — from 2pm to 7pm” reported Fortify Rights.

More than 2600 villages were burned down throughout the state. It is becoming one of the “deadliest bouts of violence involving the Muslim minority in decades”, according to Reuters.

The violence — and ensuing exodus — saw survivors bringing with them harrowing tales of rape and murder at the hands of the military and Buddhist mobs.

“Some are gaunt and spent, already starving and carrying listless and dehydrated babies, with many miles to go,” read the New York Times on the new crisis facing the modern world.

It’s a result not helped by the silence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of failing to support the Muslim minority that has long complained of persecution.

“The military came with 200 people to the village and started fires … All the houses in my village are already destroyed. If we go back there and the army sees us, they will shoot,” Jalal Ahmed, 60, who arrived in Bangladesh last week with a group of about 3,000 after walking for almost a week, told Reuters.

“My brother was killed — [Myanmar Army soldiers] burned him with the group. We found (my other family members) in the fields,” Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old survivor of the attacks on Chut Pyin village, told Fortify Rights.

In the Chut Pyin village, where some of the worst violence is believed to have occurred, Abdul said his brother was among a group of ­Rohingya men marched into a house by soldiers who then set it alight, burning to death all inside.

“They had marks on their bodies from bullets and some had cuts.

“My two nephews, their heads were off.

“One was six years old and the other was nine years old.

“My sister-in-law was shot with a gun.”

Reuters could not independently verify these accounts as access for independent journalists to northern Rakhine has been restricted since security forces locked down the area in October.

As the violence rages, images posted on social media are providing a devastating snapshot.

One photograph claiming to have been taken in a Rohingya village shows a number of children lying dead in the mud.

Another shows a woman cradling the headless body of her young daughter.

Another shows a man holding the little girl’s head in his arm.

“There are no more villages left, none at all,” Rashed Ahmed, a 46-year-old farmer from the Maungdaw Township in Myanmar, told the New York Times. He had already been walking for four days.

“There are no more people left, either,” he said. “It is all gone.”

Smoke and flames in Myanmar are seen from the Bangladeshi side of the border near Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Picture: Bernat Armangue

Smoke and flames in Myanmar are seen from the Bangladeshi side of the border near Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf area, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Picture: Bernat ArmangueSource:AP

Rohingya refugees carry and an old woman from Rakhine state in Myanmar along a path near Teknaf in Bangladesh on September 3, 2017. Picture: R. Asad

Rohingya refugees carry and an old woman from Rakhine state in Myanmar along a path near Teknaf in Bangladesh on September 3, 2017. Picture: R. AsadSource:AFP

“This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine State may be far worse than originally thought,” said Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director.

“Yet this is only one of 17 sites that we’ve located where burnings have taken place. Independent monitors are needed on the ground to urgently uncover what’s going on.”

The violence has forced almost 75,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, as the country struggles to cope with the sudden influx of refugees and becomes hostile to its surging increase in the Rohingya people.

“The existing camps are near full capacity and numbers are swelling fast. In the coming days there needs to be more space,” said UNHCR regional spokeswoman Vivian Tan.

Both Myanmar’s security officials and Rohingya insurgents are accusing each other of atrocities. The military has said nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in clashes. Bangladesh police, meanwhile, say dozens of Rohingya have died attempting to cross the river separating the country from Myanmar.

The Myanmar government blames the insurgents for burning their own homes and killing Buddhists in Rakhine.

Longstanding tensions between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists erupted in bloody rioting in 2012, forcing more than 100,000 Rohingya into displacement camps, where many still live.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo sent his foreign minister to Myanmar to urge its government to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that violence against Muslims amounted to genocide.

“Real action is needed, not just statements and condemnations,” he said.

“This violence and humanitarian crisis must end.”

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