The Burmese government’s Information Committee announced yesterday that 23 men have been charged with terrorism offences after a series of raids by security forces in Rakhine State last week.
It said that on 7 November, 38 men were detained following a pre-dawn raid in the village of Harbi. After interrogation, 19 of the men were “strongly suspected” of involvement in the 25 August attacks by Rohingya militants on an army base and 30 police posts, when about a dozen members of the security forces were killed. The 19 have subsequently been charged under Article 50 (a) and (i) of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Then, on 11 November, 20 men were apprehended in the village of Gordu Thara near Maungdaw.
According to this morning’s report in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, four of the detainees have since been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law, while the others are still being questioned.
“[Acting on] a tip-off that terrorists and fugitives were hiding in the prawn breeding ponds between Gordu Thara west and Gordu Thara Chaungwa, a combined team that included security forces launched a stakeout starting on the morning of 11 November until the evening, when 20 people arrived and were immediately detained on suspicion of terrorism,” the report said.
A militant group identifying itself as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army has claimed responsibility for the 25 August attacks.
Following the attacks, Burma’s military, backed by police units and often volunteers, have been conducting a series of “clearance operations” in Rohingya Muslim villages, leading to a mass exodus of the local population across the border to Bangladesh.
A top UN official has described the military’s actions as a textbook case of “ethnic cleansing,” however the Burmese military has rejected allegations of human rights abuses.