Myanmar: satellite imagery confirms Rohingya village of Tula Toli razed

Exclusive: Photos of burned houses corroborates Guardian report on destruction of homes by the army

New satellite images taken above the Myanmar village of Tula Toli have revealed the charred remains of the settlement, confirming a Guardian report earlier this month that detailed its demolition based on eyewitness accounts.

More than a dozen Rohingya from Tula Toli described a blood-soaked operation by Myanmars armed forces on 30 August that killed scores of civilians, emptied the village and set their wood-built homes ablaze.

High-resolution photos, taken on Saturday when monsoon rain clouds briefly cleared for the first time in weeks, show significant destruction to the village, according to an analysis by Amnesty International, which has tracked the conflict from space.

The destruction visible in the imagery is consistent with recent burning, most clearly characterised by damage to surrounding vegetation, Amnesty said of Tula Toli, officially known in Myanmar by its Burmese name, Min Gyi.

The United Nations top human rights official has referred to the violence against the minority Muslim Rohingya as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. The conflict is steeped in Islamophobic hatred that has become widespread in Myanmar.

Satellite images show that only the south-west corner of Tula Toli appears intact. When shown a map earlier this month, Rohingya refugees told the Guardian this part of the village was inhabited by ethnic Rakhine people, who, like most in Myanmar, are Buddhists.

Before and after: satellite images of Tula Toli
Before and after: satellite images of Tula Toli

Residents told the Guardian that soldiers and local Rakhine Buddhist mobs stole valuables from Rohingya days before the attack. They said an early-morning campaign by the army killed dozens. One man, Petam Ali, said his elderly grandmother was decapitated and burned. Others said soldiers drowned babies and toddlers in the river that surrounds the village.

These pictures are further damning evidence of the horror that the Rohingya are enduring at the hands of the Myanmar military, said Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK.

Aung Sun Suu Kyi cannot continue to ignore the brutal truth that people are being indiscriminately slaughtered and their homes destroyed by the security forces.

Journalists have not been permitted access to the area and the government has not responded to requests for comment.

The Rohingya have been systematically persecuted for decades by the government, which, contrary to historical evidence, regards them as illegal Bengali migrants from Bangladesh.

The latest wave of bloodshed, which is the deadliest so far, ramped up after the army launched a huge counteroffensive in retribution for guerrilla-style ambushes on 25 August by an emergent Rohingya militant group.

Nearly 400,000 people just less than half of Rakhines Rohingya population have poured into Bangladesh, fleeing what Amnesty describes as a mass-scale scorched-earth campaign across the north of the state.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/19/myanmar-satellite-imagery-confirms-rohingya-village-of-tula-toli-razed