Amnesty International has stated that the Rohingya armed group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is responsible for at least one, and possible a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindus – an accusation that the militants vehemently deny.
In their findings the group notes an attack carried out by ARSA on the 25th August 2017 in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik where they “robbed, bound and blindfolded” 53 Hindus and dragged them to the outskirts of the village. They are then accused of separating the men from the women and children and executing the villagers, “starting with the men”. On the same day, in the neighbouring village of Ye Bauk Kyar 46 Hindus disappeared and the Hindu community suspects the ARSA was responsible, Amnesty reported. These two separate attacks led to the suspected death toll of 99.
ARSA has since refuted Amnesty’s claims stating that they are “unjustifiable”, “careless” and amount to a manipulation of the international community.
Regarding the Nauk Kha Maung Seik attack, Amnesty says, ARSA allowed 8 women and 8 of their children to live if they agreed to convert to Islam. They were “forced to flee alongside their captors to the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh” it adds. “After arriving in Bangladesh the women were forced to document false accounts of the massacre stating that it was carried out by “ethnic Rakhine villagers”.
One villagers reported that they “told us that if anyone asks we should say that the Rakhine and the military attacked us […] He said if people come to interview you, you must say this or you will be killed.”
The survivors were eventually allowed to return to Myammar in October 2017 after being repatriated.
On 26th August, Amnesty also notes another ARSA attack which killed 6 Hindus. This followed a series of ARSA attacks on around 30 Myanmar security posts the day before and had led to an “unlawful and grossly disproportionate campaign of violence by Myanmar’s security forces”. Amnesty has previously reported the grotesque levels of abuse by the Myanmar army including “killings, rape and other sexual violence, torture, village burning, forced starvation tactics, and other violations”. Amnesty reports that “more than 693,000 Rohingya people were forced to flee to Bangladesh, where they still remain”.
Amnesty International has stated that it remains steadfast to reporting abuses committed by both the ARSA and the Myanmar authorities stating that “nothing can justify such violations”. They also demand the government allow Amnesty International, “alongside other independent investigators” be granted access to northern Rakhine state so that they may conduct credible investigations into these wrong doings.
In response to the report, ARSA said that their aim is to protect the Rohingya community from the “Burmese Terrorist Military Junta”. They further claim that they do not attack “Rakhine extremists” and that “it is illogical and unreasonable for any Rohingya to commit any crime against a Hindu who is not killing or attacking Rohingyas”. They claim to welcome calls for access to Rakhine and any investigations that entails stating that it would dismiss the accusations and elucidate the efforts by the Burmese government to “manipulate the actual incidents that had occurred in Arakan State with the collaboration of some international associates”.