Fresh fires reported in empty Rohingya Muslim village

Fresh fires reported in empty Rohingya Muslim village

Nearly two dozen journalists monitoring the developments in northern Rakhine State on a government-controlled trip reported on Thursday seeing new fires in Gawdu Zara Village.

They also reported seeing pages ripped from Islamic texts that were scattered on the ground. Among the buildings on fire was a school. Cattle and dogs wandered through the remains.

The devleopments cast further doubt on Myanmar government claims that the Muslims are burning down their own homes.

Myanmar’s government has been claiming that the Muslims are responsible for the fires and the destruction. However, the reporters who visited five blackened, obliterated, and deserted villages on Thursday said there had been no Muslims in the village to light any fires.

Thousands of people from the Muslim minority group have already escaped Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh amid a government crackdown. The burning down of the homes of the Rohingya makes it less likely for them to return.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar refers to Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Earlier, Bangladeshi government sources said Myanmarese forces were laying down mines on a section of the border to prevent the return of the Muslims. But Muslims have been using that path to move in the opposite direction — into Bangladesh — and several explosions have already been heard. A number of civilians, including children, have been reported maimed.

There have been numerous reports of rape, murder, and arson against the Muslim population in Rakhine since a government siege began on the state late last year.

Prior to that, the Muslims were frequent targets of Buddhist mobs. Tens of thousands of Rohingya were driven from their homes in another wave of violence in 2012.

The UN’s refugee agency said some 270,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee state-sponsored violence in Myanmar and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh since August 25.

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