Around 200 homes and other buildings were destroyed by fire in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Rakhine state, Human Rights Watch reported Tuesday. The rights group says satellite images recorded the destruction on May 16.
Northern Rakhine state has been riddled by conflict between the Myanmar military, also referred to as the Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army (AA), a militant group of Rakhine Buddhists seeking self-governance.
No one has claimed responsibility for the May 16 destruction.
The most recent account of mass burning in Rakhine was in August 2017, when the Myanmar military and militant civilians destroyed at least 392 Rohingya villages.
The Rohingya Muslims, densely populated in Rakhine, are an ethnic minority in the Buddhist-majority country. Since 1982, the government has refused to recognize the Rohingya as its citizens, viewing them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
The 2017 violence involved massacres, extrajudicial killings, mass gang rapes and villages burned by the Tatmadaw — events a fact-finding mission established by the United Nations Human Rights Council described as rising to the level of “both war crimes and crimes against humanity” and in “genocidal intent.”
The current conflict between the Tatmadaw and AA has pushed more Rohingya to flee, leading hundreds to the sea to find safety in neighboring countries.
Citing concerns about COVID-19 earlier this year, Malaysia denied entry to nearly 400 Rohingya Muslim refugees, leaving them stranded at sea for two months until Bangladesh took them in. The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.