The situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine Province continues to devolve since police first reported three organised attacks on outposts near the Maungdaw Township on October 9 which saw nine police officers and several attackers killed.
The subsequent events following the attacks have enveloped Myanmar in a shroud of darkness reminiscent of the brutal and murderous years under the military junta. Reports say more than 100 people, mostly ethnic Rohingya, have been killed and tens of thousands of others displaced. Hundred of Rohingya villages have been obliterated.
However, as Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government restricts journalists, and humanitarian aid workers independent on the ground confirmation of events is difficult. The carnage cannot be hidden from remote sensing devices though, or determined journalists.
In the Sky News video above, correspondent Mark Stone guides us through what he describes as a ghetto. The bare-bones refugee camp houses some 13,000 Rohingya refugees, a stateless people for whom the Myanmar government refuses to grant citizenship. At those numbers, Stone reports, the camp is considered one of the smaller camps.
The camp, which Stone doesn’t name, is only 15 minutes from the place they once called home, Stone says, “This is ethnic cleansing in 20th century, democratic Burma.”
In a press release from the Myanmar Ministry of Information, Aung San Suu Kyi says that those 100 people killed are part of an extremist group called Aqa Mul Mujahidin, which is said to be linked to the armed group Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO). The information, purportedly gathered through interrogation, names 45-year-old Havistoohar as the leader of the attacks on police outposts.
The release goes on to detail 400 active militants under the command of Havistoohar, claiming that funding for training and weapons can be traced back to terrorism groups such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Daesch, (Islamic State (IS)). The precursor of this revelation, however, states “This funding was not provided by particular organisations, but was provided secretly through contacts between individuals.”
The press release does not mention the potentially 30,000 displaced Rohingyas, seeking shelter. From November 19 to 23, an influx of refugees crossed the Bangladeshi and Myanmar border, entering at Cox’s Bazar. Reuters spoke with officials from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the migration agency to the United Nations, who said he watched as more than 500 people crossed the boarder through the hills and trees.
High resolution satellite imagery, released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), shows the number of destroyed homes and buildings far exceed the numbers and locations that Myanmar’s government has claimed. The total number of destroyed buildings in Northern Rakhine state now sits at 1,250. Additionally, data from environmental satellite sensors reveal active fires in a slew of villages between November 12 and 15.
HRW is calling on Myanmar to invite the UN “to assist in an impartial investigation of the widespread destruction of villages”; An invitation that Nobel Laurette Suu Kyi has yet to respond to.
Feature video removed by original poster