Rohingya militants deny killing Hindus in Rakhine, reject “victim-blaming”

ARSA denies that its members "perpetrated murder, sexual violence, or forcible recruitment". Residents in the Hindu village of Ye Baw Kya say more than a hundred people have been killed, including 48 who are missing. Women forced to convert and marry. More than 400 Rohingya villages have been burnt.  The Myanmar government plans to oversee reconstruction. UN agencies allowed to visit Rakhine.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) issued a statement denying responsibility for the massacre of Hindu villagers as alleged by the Myanmar military.

Accompanied by soldiers, a group of journalists yesterday visited Ye Baw Kya, a Hindu village near Kha Maung Seik (northern Rakhine), where two mass graves were found on 24 and 25 September, with 45 bodies.

In its first official statement posted on the its Twitter account concerning the allegations, ARSA "categorically" denied that its members "perpetrated murder, sexual violence, or forcible recruitment" in the area. They called on the army to stop "victim-blaming".

Ye Baw Kya residents however say they were attacked by militants. Armed with machetes and sticks, the latter attacked their community, killing indiscriminately and throwing the bodies of the victims into freshly-dug pits.

According to witnesses, about a hundred Islamic militants were involved. Security forces are still searching for 48 missing Hindus.

Ni Maul, a Hindu leader who has helped authorities with the search, said that they found the burial sites using the testimony of eight Hindu women who were spared and brought to Bangladesh after they agreed to convert to Islam. "They kept the beautiful eight women alive to marry," he said.

Four Hindu women displaced in Bangladesh told AFP they were among the eight who escaped the massacre in the same area of Kha Maung Seik, with eight children in tow.

Myanmar’s military has claimed that ARSA is using a scorched earth policy against both Rohingya and other ethnic groups, to spread fear and fuel hatred against the state.

For its part, the Myanmar government announced yesterday that it plans to rebuild burnt villages.

Using satellite photos, human rights groups report that more than 400 Rohingya villages have been affected by fire.

For the first time since the beginning of the latest wave of violence, Myanmar authorities will allow UN agencies to visit Rakhine tomorrow.

However, citing UN sources, the BBC is reporting that the government has cancelled the visit, but that has not been officially confirmed.

The UN has come up with an contingency plan to feed up more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees after some 480,000 fled to Bangladesh.