Since violence renewed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council:
"I am becoming more convinced that the crimes committed following 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 bear the hallmarks of genocide and call in the strongest terms for accountability.”
Earlier this month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found that Rohingyas who try to leave their villages
“are taken away and never return” and found a “recurring theme” of women and girls being abducted.The agency also found an ongoing systematic campaign of “terror and forced starvation” which are forcing Rohingya out of the country.
In a recent report, Amnesty International reported that forces are bulldozing land and building military bases where Rohingya villages were burned down.
Not only does this prevent refugees from returning, but it also hides authorities’ crimes.
“The bulldozing of entire villages is incredibly worrying. Myanmar’s authorities are erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely difficult,”said Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan.
This has raised concerns for both Amnesty International and the Special Rapporteur over the Bangladesh-Myanmar arrangement to repatriate Rohingya refugees as they will return to find their homes gone and face continued discrimination.
“No one should be returned to Myanmar until they can do so voluntarily, in safety and dignity – something that is clearly not possible today,”Amnesty International said.