Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeLatest NewsRohingya residents of Buthidaung Township flee Arakan Army

Rohingya residents of Buthidaung Township flee Arakan Army

At least 3,500 Rohingya have fled Buthidaung town in northern Arakan State to escape attacks by the Arakan Army (AA) since May 17. Over 7,500 homes and at least six mosques were destroyed by arson in Buthidaung, where an estimated 260,000 Rohingya live.

The AA ordered the Rohingya to leave after it seized control of Buthidaung on Saturday. Residents stated that their homes were looted and burned down the previous night. 

“[They] confiscated money and jewelry from the fleeing [Rohingya], leaving them without food,” a resident told DVB. Tens of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have also been staying in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships, according to the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK).

The AA stated that it plans to investigate anyone who remains in Buthidaung to see if they have links to armed groups such as the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Arakan Rohingya Army (ARA), or the Burma Army, which the AA launched an offensive against and has seized 11 towns from since Nov. 13. 

Nearly 200 Buthidaung residents are being held by the AA in makeshift detention centers but are being provided with food and medicine. “People are very tightly packed together. We cannot yet estimate how many [Rohingya] there are,” another resident told DVB.

Khaing Thukha, the AA spokesperson, claimed that hundreds of RSO, ARSA and ARA fighters are planning attacks against the AA. He blamed the Burma Army and Rohingya armed groups for burning down Rohingya homes.

“They set fire to more than 5,000 homes of Hindu and Rakhine people between April 12 to 21. Their main goal is to create a race riot by setting the AA up as being responsible for the arson attacks,” Khaing Thukha told DVB.

Twenty-eight Rohingya organizations, including the Free Rohingya Coalition and BROUK, issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling on the international community to stop the AA from committing further violations of international law.

“They have committed numerous massacres, forced relocations, [and have] used civilian areas as battlefields,” said Nay San Lwin, the founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, who also emphasized the AA’s repeated violations of provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its genocide case against Myanmar.

“The AA is forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. [This means] people [will] have no food or shelter,” said Tun Khin, the BROUK president.

The National Unity Government (NUG) expressed concern in a statement on Tuesday. It accused the military regime in Naypyidaw of stoking communal tensions between ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya. The NUG did not mention the AA, which is considered a resistance group fighting the military.

“[There] has to be a clear message from the NUG that we’re not going to tolerate armed groups living and enjoying impunity. If you cannot think about protecting vulnerable groups that have already dealt with, or have been dealing with a full on genocidal campaign, who can you really protect in this country?” asked Yasmin Ullah, the director of the Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Parliamentarians for Human Rights, known as APHR, has called on the regional bloc and the U.N. to act swiftly to avoid another possible mass killing of Rohingya in northern Arakan State. 

The U.N. has stated that there are 630,000 Rohingya in Arakan State. BROUK added that 430,000 of them are IDPs. The Rohingya continue to be deprived of citizenship and freedom of movement in Myanmar.

Over 700,000 Rohingya were forced into Bangladesh after a 2017 military clearance operation in northern Arakan State that was labeled a genocide by the U.S. government in 2022.


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