YANGON -- Myanmar is rapidly building military facilities in Rakhine State on the ruins of the torched homes of the Muslim Rohingya minority, Amnesty International says in a report released Monday.
Satellite images show new buildings and fences on the scorched land that was once Rohingya villages. At least three security force facilities have appeared on such land just since January.
"This makes the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees an even more distant prospect," said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's crisis response director, referring to the development as a "land grab by the military." More than 650,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh due to security force operations against them.
"Myanmar's authorities are erasing evidence of crimes against humanity, making any future attempts to hold those responsible to account extremely difficult," Hassan added.
Myanmar officials responded to the report by asserting that the construction is part of a redevelopment plan for the western state, while recognizing that security force facilities are included.
Bangladesh and Myanmar reached a deal in November to quickly repatriate the Rohingya. Although Bangladesh recently submitted names of about 8,000 people to be returned first, the list has drawn criticism for ignoring the refugees' opinions and failing to meet the agreement's conditions. The process has stalled, and there is no date for when repatriation will begin.