At least 99 Hindus including children were killed by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army or ARSA insurgents in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in August 2017, says Amnesty International.
The human rights group said evidence collected after detailed investigation inside the Rakhine state and across Bangladesh border, including forensic reports and interviews, revealed the massacre in which additional unlawful killings and abduction of Hindu villagers also took place.
“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,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International, in a media statement released on Tuesday.
“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,” she said, focusing on the point that human rights abuse by ARSA is largely under-reported.
ARSA attacked the Hindu community in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, in a cluster of villages known as Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw Township around 8am on Aug 25, 2017, said the media release.
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 executed 53 of the Hindus, 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, said the group that campaigns against abuses of human rights worldwide.
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.
“They held knives and long iron rods and tied our hands behind our backs and also blindfolded us. One of them said we were same as the Rakhine as we had a different religion and couldn’t live there. They beat us severely and eventually I gave them my gold and money,” Bina Bala, a 22-year-old woman who survived the massacre, told Amnesty International.
All eight survivors interviewed said they either saw Hindu relatives being killed or heard their screams.
Formila, around 20, told Amnesty International that while being marched away with other seven abducted women, she turned back and saw ARSA fighters kill the other women and children.
“I saw men holding the heads and hair [of the women] and others were holding knives. And then they cut their throats,” she said.
The victims from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik include 20 men, 10 women, and 23 children, 14 of whom were under the age of eight.
Another 46 Hindu men, women, and children in the neighbouring village of Ye Bauk Kyar disappeared on the same day, who are presumed by the Hindu community to be killed by ARSA fighters, making the total death toll as 99.
Bodies of 45 people from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik were exhumed in four mass graves in late September 2017 while remains of the rest of the victims have not been found till date, Amnesty continued.
ARSA’s involvement in other killings and violent attacks against members of other ethnic and religious communities was evident when it killed six Hindus on the outskirts of Maungdaw town, near Myo Thu Gyi village on Aug 26 last year.
Amnesty International said both ARSA’s appalling attacks and the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population must be condemned as human rights violations or abuses by one side never justify abuses or violations by the other.
“All the survivors and victims’ families have the right to justice, truth, and reparation for the immense harm they have suffered,” said Hassan.
In a response to Myanmar’s permanent representative’s criticism over international community failing to acknowledge abuses committed by ARSA in a UN Security Council Meeting, she said the Myanmar government cannot criticise and then deny the 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 the director of Amnesty’s Crisis Response.
Updated On: 2018-05-23