This satellite image taken Sept. 21 shows the complete destruction of Rohingya villages near an intact Rakhine village at Maungdaw township. (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)
Nearly 300 villages in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar have been partially or totally destroyed by fire since Aug. 25, reported Human Rights Watch (HRW) citing satellite images.
The rights group said satellite images show at least 288 villages affected by burning conducted by the Myanmar army as part of its "clearance operations" in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on government posts on Aug. 25.
Since then, the Myanmar army has conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing which has resulted in an exodus of more than 530,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. "These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for HRW, in a statement.
HRW said that the greatest damage occurred in Maungdaw township which accounted for some 90 percent of the areas where destruction happened between Aug. 25 and Sept. 25.