Blame for Recent Myanmar Violence Outbreak?
Bouts of violence erupted in northwest Myanmar, displacing more than 58,000 Rohingya many of whom fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
Myanmar’s government blamed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group in the the Rohingya-majority areas in the South Asian nation, for coordinated violent attacks against its security posts, triggering retaliation from the government.
The violence escalated as more than 2,600 houses were burned down, causing Rohinga to leave their homes and seek refuge in the neigboring country.
The Rohingya community and Myanmar forces do not agree on the responsibility for the arson sprees and killing in the conflict-hit area.
Initial reports said insurgent groups were responsible for a series attacks and burning of Rohingya homes as reported by the local government. However, the Rohingya community do not agree with the accusation. Instead, they pointed fingers at the security forces for their campaign of arson and a plan to force them out of the area. This claim from the Rohingya was backed by Human Rights Watch.
The rights group analysed satellite imagery and accounts from Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. They said Myanmar security forces deliberately set the fires.
“New satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine state may be far worse than originally thought,” said the group’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson.
The recent hostilities have killed nearly 400 people in the country’s western Rakhine state.
Tales of Violence and Beheadings
Horrible stories of killing surfaced online when Rohingya survivors of the attack shared what they witnessed while trying the escape violence.
Witnesses say Rohingya children were beheaded and civilians burned alive.
A man named Abdul Rahman, 41, said he had survived a five-hour attack on Chut Pyin village. He told Fortifiy Rights, a charity working in the area, that a group of Rohingya men had been rounded up and detained in a bamboo hut, which was then set on fire.
“My brother was killed, [Burmese soldiers] burned him with the group,” he said.
Rahman added, “My two nephews, their heads were off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was shot with a gun.”
Another man from the same village, named Sultan Ahmed, 27, told the charity: “Some people were beheaded, and many were cut. We were in the house hiding when [armed residents from a neighbouring village] were beheading people. When we saw that, we just ran out the back of the house.”
Who Are the The Rohingya?
The Rohingya are the Muslim minority in Myanmar. They are regarded as illegal immigrants. The previous US administration called them one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Some Rohingya have been denied citizenship, making them stateless. For many decades, they have been persecuted and discriminated against.
Myanmar is a dominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people and Northern Rakhine is home to 80 percent of the country’s 1 million outcast Muslim Rohingya population.