Posted: Sep 14, 2017 09:19 AM MDT
Updated: Nov 27, 2017 08:26 AM MST
Nov. 27, 2017: Details of the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate potentially hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State were revealed. At least 623,000 Muslim-majority Rohingya have fled across the border into Bangladesh since August when a new round of violence broke out in Myanmar's west.
November 2017: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson labeled stories of mass killings and destruction in the Rohingya former home state at the hands of the Myanmar military "ethnic cleansing."
November 2017: Myanmar government has repeatedly denied attacking Rohingya civilians, saying it was waging a campaign against a militant insurgency.
Sept. 15: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both accused Myanmar's military of deliberately torching Muslim-minority Rohingya villages near the Bangladesh border in a campaign of "ethnic cleansing." "Our field research backs what the satellite imagery has indicated -- that the Burmese military is directly responsible for the mass burning of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State," Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said.
More than 370,000 Rohingya -- many of them women and children -- have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence since August 25, according to the United Nations, an average of almost 20,000 a day.
The refugees speak of indiscriminate clearance operations, huts set on fire and family members being taken away and never heard from again.
As of Sept. 14, 2017, almost 40% of all Rohingya villages in Myanmar's Rakhine State are now empty, a government spokesperson has confirmed.
The United Nations said the crisis has left at least 1,000 people dead.
Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar's Presidential Office, said the reason people abandoned their homes was because many were told to leave by family members who were involved in terrorist activities. "Some of them are directly involved with terrorist activities and some are sympathizers for the terrorist group," Zaw Htay wrote in an email to CNN. "And some are running away to avoid arrest by police because they had some connections with the terrorist group."
Myanmar's government maintains that the actions of its military are a necessary measure to protect against "terrorist activities" in Rahkine State by Rohingya militants.