A total of 23 people have been confirmed killed and 10 are still listed as missing in the northwestern Arakan State township of Maungdaw since October, according to a statement by the Office of the State Counsellor on Monday.
The statement by Aung San Suu Kyi’s office would appear to contradict reports by international agencies including the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which interviewed hundreds of fleeing refugees from the area who told stories of mass killings, including children and babies, by Burma’s security forces.
Coordinated attacks on police outposts on 9 October by suspected Rohingya Muslim militants sparked a furious crackdown by Burmese security forces, in what the government termed “clearance operations” aimed at hunting down the alleged perpetrators. However, human rights groups have said that Rohingya civilians have borne the brunt of the consequences. Some 65,000 Rohingyas have fled their homes to take sanctuary in neighbouring Bangladesh since the crackdown, said the UN.
Yesterday’s government statement omitted any mention of ethnicity or religious affiliation in relation to the deaths and abductions.
The statement said that the 10 missing persons had been abducted. It said 15 persons were kidnapped in total between 9 October 2016 and 3 April 2017, of whom five were rediscovered showing evidence of torture; some were tied with ropes. The statement did not make clear whether any of those five were recovered alive.
The statement said that on 31 March, at around midnight, a man named Nunamauk was abducted by seven masked men with knives, the victim’s wife reported to Kyainchaung Police station.
On the same day, the statement said, police arrested 13 people in Theintaung village in Maungdaw in relation to the murder of a man named Swe Duah Mee, whose body had been found with a slit throat lying in a pool of mud.