Over 28 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Military in Myanmar and several villages have been burned down in the Muslim majority Western Rakhine state of Myanmar. The Myanmar Military claims that, they were attacked using swords and they had to kill down the attackers.

“New satellite images not only confirm the widespread destruction of Rohingya villages but show that it was even greater than we first thought,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Burmese authorities should promptly establish a UN-assisted investigation as a first step toward ensuring justice and security for the victims.”

Human Rights Watch identified a total of 430 destroyed buildings in three villages of northern Maungdaw district from an analysis of very high resolution satellite imagery recorded on the mornings of October 22, November 3, and November 10, 2016. Of this total, 85 buildings were destroyed in the village of Pyaung Pyit (Ngar Sar Kyu), 245 in Kyet Yoe Pyin, and 100 in Wa Peik (Kyee Kan Pyin). Damage signatures in each of the assessed villages were consistent with fire, including the presence of large burn scars and destroyed tree cover. Because of dense tree cover it is possible that the actual number of destroyed buildings is higher.

In addition to satellite imagery reviewed by Human Rights Watch, reports by human rights organizations, the media, and members of a delegation of nine foreign ambassadors who visited some impacted areas on November 2-3 confirm that the damage was substantial. The delegation conducted no formal investigation or assessment but confirmed that they saw burned structures in several towns.

The crisis follows violence on October 9 in which gunmen attacked three police outposts in Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine State near the Bangladesh border, leaving nine police officers dead. The government said that the attackers made off with dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The Burmese government asserts the attack was carried out by a Rohingya group, but actual responsibility remains unclear.

Immediately after the attacks, government forces declared Maungdaw an “operation zone” and began sweeps of the area to find the attackers and lost weapons. They severely restricted the freedom of movement of local populations and imposed extended curfews, which remain in place. A UN-assisted investigation needs to examine the deadly attacks on border guard posts on October 9, and allegations by the media and local groups that government security forces subsequently committed summary killings, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary arrests, arson, and other abuses against Rohingya villagers in Maungdaw district, Human Rights Watch said.

On October 28, Reuters published interviews with Rohingya women who allege that Burmese soldiers raped them. The government also allegedly pressured the Myanmar Timesto fire one of its editors who reported allegations of rape by Burmese army soldiers. Government-imposed restrictions on access to the area by journalists and human rights monitors continue to hinder impartial information gathering.

According to United Nations, Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.  Myanmar Government has sealed off the Western Rakhine state from outsiders and foreign journalists. Even the international aid is denied. United Nations has repeatedly called for access to the Rakhine state, where Myanmar Government is accused to ethic cleansing, systematic rape and torture of women and absolutely no employment opportunities to Rohingya Muslims. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have lost their lives taking the ocean route to escape prosecution of the Myanmar Government.

[Contains material from the Press Release of Human Rights Watch about Burning down of Villages in Rakhine State from 13th November 2016].