- Another effect of the construction boom is the destruction of physical evidence that could be useful in a future tribunal
- Médecins Sans Frontières estimates at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed between August 25 and September 24 2017
All along the rutted road running from Inn Din village to Maungdaw town in northern Rakhine state, the blackened, headless trunks of palm trees punctuate the lush landscape. A year after Myanmar’s military launched a campaign of murder, rape, and arson to drive out the Rohingya, the charred trees are the only visible reminders that the stateless, Muslim population once lived there. Soon, even these may be erased.
In Inn Din, as in other parts of Rakhine state, the Myanmar government is demolishing areas where thousands of Rohingya lived before fleeing to Bangladesh. Bulldozers and backhoes are parked beside new, blue-roofed homes, built by a government agency chaired by state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
During a government-organised media tour of northern Rakhine state late last month, Inn Din village administrator Kyaw Soe Moe said the new homes would soon be occupied by “Rakhine, Chin, Bamar, and Hindu people from other parts of the country”.
According to a UN fact-finding mission, whose report last month called for Myanmar’s military leaders to be prosecuted for genocide, the purpose of the bulldozing and construction is “the removal of the Rohingya and all traces of them and their replacement with non-Rohingya”.
Another effect of the construction boom is the destruction of physical evidence that could be useful in a future tribunal. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed between 25 August and 24 September 2017, but fewer than 100 bodies have been uncovered, and the Myanmar government has blamed Rohingya insurgents for all but 10 of the killings.
“It’s a big question I ask myself – where are all the dead bodies?” said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which employs local networks to document abuses in Rakhine state. “A year later, how will we find out? If we find bones, how will we know how or when they were killed, or whether they were killed at all?”