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Myanmar Wipes Out Some Rohingya Villages From Their Map, Reports UN

Three years ago, Myanmar’s government decided to erase the name of the Rohingya village of Kan Kya from their official map. The government took this step after the military burned down the village and demolished the remains, reports the United Nations.

Rohingya villages burned by the military. Source: Reuters

Kan Kya is about five kilometers from the Naf River, which marks the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Kan Kya was a home of hundreds of people before the military hunted about 730,000 Rohingya people out of the country back in 2017. The United Nations described thisact as, “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The government of Myanmar is now accused of genocide to which the military replied was a, “clearance operation” and they were wiping out the militants.

The lands where Kan Kya stood once, has dozens of government and military buildings now, according to the satellite images by Google Earth.

Maps which were prepared in 2020 by the United Nations mapping unit in Myanmar said that the site of the destroyed village is nameless for now. This particular unit makes maps for the use of United Nation bodies, such as refugee agency UNHCR, and humanitarian groups that work with the United Nations in the field.

“Their intention is that we do not return,” said religious leader Mohammed Rofiq, a former chairman of a village close to Kan Kya who now lives in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, referring to the Myanmar government.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, which oversees Myanmar’s rebuilding activities in Rakhine state, declined to answer questions from Reuters about the erasure of village names or the government’s policy concerning the return of Rohingya refugees.

According to the Deccan Herald, a representative of the Myanmar government, led by state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Yanghee Lee, a former U.N. human rights envoy to Myanmar, said the government was purposefully making it hard for refugees to return to places with no name and no evidence that they ever lived there. “This is a way of exterminating their basic identity,” she said.

Lee also mentioned that the United Nations was complicit in allowing that to happen by not challenging the Myanmar government: “There hasn’t been any leadership that will say, ‘Wait a minute, the buck stops here, we’re not going to let this continue."

Myanmar is a Buddhist-majority country which denied to provide citizenship to the Muslims of Rohingya, the minorities. Rohingya muslims are time and again referred to as interlopers from Bangladesh despite their centuries-long presence in the country.

While talks on the process between Bangladesh and Myanmar keeps happening, there is no process on how minorities are being treated in Myanmar. More than a million Rohingya are living in refugee camps. When some refugees tried to return to Myanmar, they were arrested for illegal entry by the Myanmar government.

A representative of Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare told Reuters there were “some gaps in communications” between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the matter of returning refugees, which the representative blamed on the postponement of a meeting due to the coronavirus.

"It's alarming," said Jafar Ahmed, another former resident of the area. "I don't know if we will ever get back our land."

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