Myanmar's "systematic" crackdown on the Rohingyas has been designed to permanently eliminate the minority Muslim community from their home in Rakhine state, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
"Brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State have been well-organized, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes," a UN investigation found.
The probe is based on interviews with people who fled to neighboring Bangladesh since attacks by militants on Myanmar's security forces in Rakhine on 25 August, which sparked a major military backlash. More than half a million people have fled in the latest exodus, according to the UN.
The UN probe found that the latest wave of military "clearance operations" in Rakhine in fact began before 25 August, possibly in early August, contradicting claims by Myanmar that the crackdown was a response to militant strikes.
The investigation broadly outlines an army-led campaign to erase the Rohingyas' connection to their homeland in the majority Buddhist nation, where they have suffered persecution for decades.
Teachers as well as cultural, religious and community leaders have also been targeted in the latest crackdown "in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge", the report said.
"Efforts were taken to effectively erase signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of the Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain," it added.