News ID: 203267
Published: 0239 GMT October 28, 2017

Myanmar harvests abandoned Rohingya fields, raising fears for return

Myanmar harvests abandoned Rohingya fields, raising fears for return

Myanmar's government began harvesting rice from farmland abandoned by Rohingya in northern Rakhine on Saturday, officials said, a move likely to raise concerns about the prospect of return for more than half a million refugees who have fled communal violence in the area.

The border region has been emptied of most of its Muslim residents since late August, when Myanmar's military launched a crackdown on the Rohingya that the UN says likely amounts to ethnic cleansing, AFP wrote.

Hundreds of villages have been burned to the ground, with more than 600,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border for sanctuary in Bangladesh.

Under intense global pressure, Myanmar has agreed to repatriate "scrutinized" refugees who can prove their residence in Rakhine.

But details of the plan remain thin, seeding concern about who will be allowed back, what they will return to and how they will live in a region where anti-Rohingya hatred remains sky-high.

On Saturday, the government began harvesting 71,000 acres of rice paddy in Maungdaw — the Rohingya-majority area hardest-hit by the violence — according to state media and a local official.

"We started harvesting in Myo Thu Gyi village tract," Thein Wai, the head of Maungdaw's Agricultural Department, said

The brutality against the Rohingya stems from the fact that Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens and has denied citizenship rights to more than one million members of the community for several decades, alleging they are Bengalis who migrated to the country from Bangladesh.

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