Arakan Army denies targeting Rohingya

Arakan Army denies targeting Rohingya
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News Desk

A powerful armed ethnic group in Myanmar said yesterday denying accusations it had targeted members of the Muslim-minority Rohingya during the offensive as the UN human rights chief said he is deeply alarmed by a resurgence of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and warned of further atrocities.

“I am deeply alarmed by reports of renewed violence and property destruction in Buthidaung township in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, resulting in the displacement of potentially tens of thousands of civilians, mainly Rohingya,” Volker Turk said in a statement.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated that the United Nations was seeking to “corroborate information indicating serious violations.”

Some Rohingya activists accuse the AA of targeting the community during the assault on Buthidaung and surrounding areas, forcing many of them to flee for safety.

“AA troops came into downtown, forced the people to leave their homes and started torching houses,” Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition advocacy group told Reuters, based on what he said were eyewitness accounts.

“While the town was burning, I spoke with several people I have known and trusted for years. They all testified that the arson attack was done by the AA.”

The AA’s Khine Thu Kha said junta aircraft and Muslim insurgent groups aligned with the military had set fire to parts of Buthidaung, which had a population of around 55,000 people, according to the most recent government census available, from 2014.

“The burning of Buthidaung is due to the air strikes from the junta’s jet fighter before our troops entered the town,” he said.

Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya civil society activist and a deputy minister in Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government, said Rohingya residents had been asked by the AA to leave Buthidaung but had responded that they had nowhere to go, leaving them trapped when the offensive occurred.

Rohingya have faced persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades. After escaping a military-led crackdown in 2017, nearly a million of them live crammed into refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a 2021 military coup, which led to the rise of the resistance fighting alongside long-established ethnic minority rebel groups.

The conflict has escalated since October, when an alliance of ethnic armies including the AA launched a major offensive near the Chinese border, taking swathes of territory from the better-armed junta and presenting its biggest challenge since taking power.

The junta has lost control of around half its 5,280 military positions, including outposts, bases and headquarters, according to one estimate.

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