Around 8 am on 25 August, ARSA attacked the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, killing 20 men, 10 women and 23 children, 14 of whom under 8. All 46 inhabitants of the village of Ye Bauk Kyar have also disappeared. Some 99 people are thought to have been killed. Myanmar complains about the failure of the international community to condemn the violence.
Naypyidaw (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Amnesty International has released new evidence of a “gruesome” massacre of Hindus by Rohingya militants in Rakhine State last year, making it the first international rights group to shed light on what it calls “the largely under-reported human rights abuses” by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
In a press release this morning, Amnesty said that ARSA killed up to 99 Hindu women, men and children and abducted Hindu villagers in August of last year. Previously, the Islamist group had denied any responsibility in the matter, calling on the Myanmar military and other Rakhine ethnic groups not to blame the victims, i.e. the Rohingya.
Since the start of the latest chapter in the crisis in the western Myanmar state, Buddhists and Hindus have blamed the Muslim armed group for a number of atrocities, evidence of which came to light when some mass graves were discovered.
In recent months, the Rohingya question has drawn the attention of the international community. As a result of pressure from Islamic countries and Western powers, Myanmar’s civilian government has had to face the issue but its failure to censure the actions of its powerful Armed Forces has sparked criticism.
By contrast, condemnations of ARSA have been relatively modest. The lack of international opposition to ARSA recently prompted Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN to accuse some of its members of only listening to one side of the story and failing to acknowledge the other side’s abuses.
“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,” Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s crisis response director, is quoted as saying in the group’s press release.
Amnesty focused on killings and abductions in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, a village in the Kha Maung Seik tract, and Myo Thu Gyi village in Maungdaw Township, a major scene of violence.
Its investigation found that at about 8 am on 25 August, ARSA attacked the Hindu community in Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik. “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, 14 of whom were under the age of 8,” the press release says.
It goes on to say that eight Hindu women and eight of their children were abducted and spared, after ARSA fighters forced the women to “convert” to Islam. Survivors were forced to flee with the fighters to Bangladesh several days later, before being repatriated in October with the aid of Bangladeshi and Myanmar authorities.
Also on 25 August, all 46 Hindus – men, women and children – disappeared from the neighbouring village of Ye Bauk Kyar.
Members of the Hindu community in northern Rakhine State believe they were killed by the same ARSA fighters. The total death toll in both villages 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. The remains of the other victims, the 46 from Ye Bauk Kyar, have not been found.
After violence broke out in Rakhine, Pope Francis expressed compassion for the suffering of the people of Rakhine. During his visit to Myanmar (27-30 November 2017), the Holy See also provided contributed cash to the local Catholic Church to help cope with the crisis.
In his address to the people of Myanmar, the pontiff declared that the future of their country must be "peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity".
Through Caritas Myanmar, the Church is also involved in development projects in ten villages inhabited by different ethnic groups and religions.