A leading Myanmar news portal the Irrawaddy have found that at least 90% of the Rohingya’s have fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine state following the Myanmar military’s crackdown in August 2017.
Their calculations are based on the Myanmar government’s and INGO’s statistics that show the population in majority-Muslim Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, as well as nearby Rathedaung township in Rakhine State have fled to Bangladesh.
“The Irrawaddy analyzed recent updated regional statistics reports from the General Administrative Department for the three townships. The reports are dated October 2017. The GAD is under the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Along with the GAD reports, The Irrawaddy’s tally also takes into account figures on the number of Rohingya in Bangladeshi camps collected by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. OCHA said that between Aug 25 and Jan 27, 688,000 new arrivals were registered,” the news portal wrote.
The Irrawaddy calculates that only 79,000 Rohingyas remain in that state, which in 2016 had a population of 767,038 according to a senior official from Maungdaw District’s General Administration Department who told the news portal told on condition of anonymity.
The 2000 word-long article
also states: “The GAD report also avoids mention of burned Rakhine and Hindu villages. The Irrawaddy witnessed some burned sites at Buddhist villages like Khone Daing and a village from Kha Maung Seik village tract while accompanying a tour of Maungdaw for foreign diplomats in October 2017.
“The GAD reports do not clearly mention the number of Rakhine or Muslim villages in each township. They only list the total number of villages. According to GAD officials from Maungdaw and Buthidaung, Maungdaw comprises 364 villages, of which 272 are Muslim (or 74% of the villages in Maungdaw). Nearly 70 villages were spared arson attacks after the months-long clearance operations by government security forces.
“Buthidaung comprises 339 villages, including 173 Rohingya villages, or 51%. A senior GAD officer in Buthidaung said 30 of the township’s 173 villages were burned to the ground. He requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“Rathedaung region is dominated by ethnic Rakhine; it had just 22 Muslim villages before the conflict. Rohingya sources said that only two or three villages remain intact; the rest were completely torched.”
There seems to a systematic push by the Myanmar government to discredit the Rohingyas claim to any land there, according the article which elaborates on the situation saying: “When The Irrawaddy visited last December, most of the villages in southern Maungdaw and some in northern Maungdaw remained as burned-out sites. The smoldering remains of one of the biggest Muslim enclaves, Myo Thu Gyi, which previously had a population of about 8,600 living in 1,230 houses, had already been bulldozed, as had the Ka Nyin Tan Muslim quarter.
“At that time, locals told The Irrawaddy that heavy machinery such as bulldozers, dump trucks and steamrollers had been hired by the local authorities. On Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued an urgent release regarding government mass demolitions in northern Rakhine. Its satellite images showed that at least 55 Rohingya villages partially destroyed by arson since Aug 25, 2017 have subsequently been bulldozed.
“HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams was quoted in a statement as saying: ‘Bulldozing these areas threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingya who lived there.’”