Published:  02:42 AM, 13 October 2017

'Rohingya villages burnt beyond recognition'

'Rohingya villages burnt beyond recognition' Rohingya refugees standing in queues for getting relief at Balukhali camp in Ukhia yesterday. -AA

Bangladesh envoy in Myanmar observed that the Rohingya villages were scorched not only flee for safety, but also to stop them from returning to the homes. The villages have literally been erased from the village map, so that the Rohingyas cannot recognize their homes and farmlands.

On Tuesday, envoys of Bangladesh along with five neighboring countries were taken for a tour by the Myanmar authorities to restive Rakhine state. Since September 25 atrocities, Bangladesh ambassador Mohammad Sufiur Rahman was among the diplomatic and media entourage on Wednesday for the first time.

The entourage included Chinese ambassador Hongliang, Indian ambassador Vikram Misria, Laotian ambassador Lyying Sayaxang and Thai ambassador Jukr Boonlong accompanied with reporters from France 24, Xinhua, CCTV, Fuji, NHK, CAN, RFA, Myanmar Times, Irrawaddy, MITV, MRTV, NPE, Myawady and DMG visited Maungdaw Township, north of Rakhine state. Likewise, Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister of State Counselor Office, Thein Swe, Union Minister of Labour, Immigration and Population, Dr Win Myat Aye, Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Maj Gen Than Htut, Deputy Minister of  Border Affairs, Rakhine State Chief Minister Nyi Pu, Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs Minister Col Phone Tint and State Social Welfare Minister Dr Chan Thar accompanied the diplomats and media on the tour.

Bangladesh envoy told BBC that he spoke to several Rohingya Muslims, who are internally displaced persons (IPD) and living in several relief camps in face of frustration and insecurity.Most of them have said that they do not see any hope of returning to their villages, which are target of scorched-earth beyond recognition, Sufiur Rahman told BBC Bangla radio, which was broadcast yesterday morning.

He said after the visit, he understands that the hearths and homes of the Rohingyas burnt to ashes, was not done suddenly. During the organized tour, he had seen miles after miles in the entire region hundreds of villages and homes torched.

"If I had not seen with my own eyes, I would not have believed that the scorched-earth policy had forced the panicked Rohingya Muslims to flee to safety to Bangladesh," he said in an interview on BBC radio.

The envoys who accompanied the tour, have expressed similar feelings about the scorched-earth policy, he remarked.Later he visited the coast of Rakhine state and visited few villages by helicopter. They were also driven in vehicles in some places.

Every place, he spoke to local people through interpreters flanked by government officials.Sufiur Rahman said, "The faces and eyes of the people portrays sense of insecurity and they lamented the pain and sufferings they endured."

All the people have been driven away from the homes in the villages. They have not hesitated to express that they are not willing to return the villages, from where they fled.

The IPD's, soon as the government officials out of hearing distance, they have told their untold stories, which non-descriptive punched with horror and experience of nightmare they endured during the crackdown of Myanmar military, he remarked.

In fear of retaliation by officials, they hesitated to mention the perpetrators, but indicated who have raided their villages. Earlier, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein - who has described the Myanmar government operations as "a textbook ethnic cleansing" - said in a statement that credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingyas, scorched their dwellings and entire villages in northern Rakhine State, not only to drive the population out in droves but also to prevent the fleeing Rohingya victims from returning to their homes," the report said.

It said the destruction by security forces, often joined by mobs of armed Rakhine Buddhists, of houses, fields, food stocks, crops and livestock made the prospect of Rohingya returning to normal lives in northern Rakhine "almost impossible".

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