Rakhine State: Muslim rebels have links with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

International Crisis Group cite videos in which the group Harakah al-Yakin (Hay) claimed responsibility for the violence. In recent weeks the clashes between the Rohingya minority and government soldiers have left 86 dead and 27 thousand displaced people. Ata Ullah, one of the leaders reportedly trained in the Arabian Peninsula.


Naypyidaw (AsiaNews) - The Rohingya Muslim rebels fighting government forces in Rakhine State are controlled by people linked to extremist Islam in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This was stated by the International Crisis Group (ICG, with headquarters in Belgium), citing some videos where Harakah group al-Yakin (HaY) claim responsibility for the ambush on October 9 last in which nine soldiers dead.

From that date the clashes in the south-east of Myanmar resumed with violence. The government army (Tatmadaw) has begun a series of operations against "Islamic extremists”, isolating the region and not allowing journalists to enter and take photographs. The Muslim houses are raided and torched. There are at least 86 dead, while 27 thousand Rohingya are displaced and seeking refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.

The work of the Tatmadaw in Rakhine State has drawn criticism from the international community. On November 24 John McKissick, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) went to the Bangladeshi border and accused Naypyidaw of conducting a genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The Rohingyas, a little over a million people, are from Bangladesh and are poorly tolerated in Myanmar, a country that does not recognize their citizenship.

HaY (Movement of the faith) was born after the violence erupted in 2012, when the fighting between government and rebels caused 100 deaths and 140 thousand displaced. According to ICG, who interviewed some members of the group, the rebels rely on militiamen who already have experience of war, having fought in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The movement offers clandestine training among Rakhine State villages: "This - says a source inside the HaY - include the use of weapons and the learning of guerrilla tactics. Members of HaY are trained specifically in the use of improvised explosive devices. "

According to the ICG, HaY leader Ata Ullah, is a native of Karachi (Pakistan) from Rohingya displaced parents. As a child he moved to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, and was later trained in guerrilla warfare. Ullah would be part of the group of 20 people from the Arabian Peninsula who lead the operations in Rakhine State.