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UNION OF MYANMAR: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State

1 Jun 2018
[International Secretariat]
Region: UNION OF MYANMAR
Topic:

A Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords is responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017, Amnesty International revealed today after carrying out a detailed investigation inside Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“Our latest investigation on the ground sheds much-needed light on the largely under-reported human rights abuses by ARSA during northern Rakhine State’s unspeakably dark recent history,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.

“It’s hard to ignore the sheer brutality of ARSA’s actions, which have left an indelible impression on the survivors we’ve spoken to. Accountability for these atrocities is every bit as crucial as it is for the crimes against humanity carried out by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State.”

Massacre in Kha Maung Seik

On 25 August 2017, ARSA attacked the Hindu community in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw Township. At the time of the attack, the Hindu villagers lived in close proximity to Rohingya villagers, who are predominantly Muslim. Rakhine villagers, who are predominantly Buddhist, also lived in the same area.

Armed men dressed in black and local Rohingya villagers in plain clothes rounded up dozens of Hindu women, men and children. They robbed, bound, and blindfolded them before marching them to the outskirts of the village, where they separated the men from the women and young children. A few hours later, the ARSA fighters killed 53 of the Hindus, execution-style, starting with the men.

Eight Hindu women and eight of their children were abducted and spared, after ARSA fighters forced the women to agree to “convert” to Islam. The survivors were forced to flee with the fighters to Bangladesh several days later, before being repatriated to Myanmar in October 2017 with the support of the Bangladeshi and Myanmar authorities.

According to a detailed list of the dead, given to Amnesty International, the victims from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik include 20 men, 10 women, and 23 children.

The same day, all of the 46 Hindu men, women, and children in the neighbouring village of Ye Bauk Kyar disappeared. Members of the Hindu community in northern Rakhine State presume the community was killed by the same ARSA fighters. Combined with those from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, the total death toll is believed to be 99.  

The bodies of 45 people from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik were unearthed in four mass graves in late September 2017. The remains of the rest of the victims from that village, as well as all 47 from Ye Bauk Kyar, have not been found to date.

ARSA’s other unlawful killings of Hindus

Amnesty International has also documented ARSA’s involvement in other killings and violent attacks against members of other ethnic and religious communities.

On 26 August 2017, ARSA members killed six Hindus near Myo Thu Gyi village.

The killings came just days after ARSA fighters unleashed a series of attacks on around 30 Myanmar security posts on 25 August 2017, prompting an unlawful and grossly disproportionate campaign of violence by Myanmar’s security forces. More than 693,000 Rohingya people were forced to flee to Bangladesh, where they still remain.

Tens of thousands of people from other ethnic and religious communities were also displaced within Rakhine State during the violence. Although most have returned to their homes, some continue to live in temporary shelters, either because their homes were destroyed or because they fear further ARSA attacks if they return to their villages.

Independent investigations needed

“ARSA’s appalling attacks were followed by the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population as a whole. Both must be condemned – human rights violations or abuses by one side never justify abuses or violations by the other,” said Tirana Hassan.

“All the survivors and victims’ families have the right to justice, truth, and reparation for the immense harm they have suffered.”

“The Myanmar government cannot criticize the international community as being one-sided while at the same time denying access to northern Rakhine State. The full extent of ARSA’s abuses and the Myanmar military’s violations will not be known until independent human rights investigators, including the UN Fact-Finding mission, are given full and unfettered access to Rakhine State,” said Tirana Hassan.

23 May 2018
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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