Rohingya villagers’ testimony sheds new light on Amnesty International’s latest report

Testimony of Rohingya villagers from Kha Maung Seik village tract, northern Maungdaw, implicates the Burmese security forces as the instigators of attacks on civilians in their area on August 25, 2017, offering a very different version of events than that given by Amnesty International in their new May 22nd report.AI’s report backs up the Burmese military’s well-publicized narrative, that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked and massacred Hindu villagers in Kha Maung Seik on August 25. AI states: “ARSA’s appalling attacks were followed up by the Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya people as a whole.”

AI claims that ARSA fighters started attacking Hindu residents of Kha Maung Seik at 8 am on August 25, killing some and holding others captive in a house in the area for two nights.

Refugees interviewed by Kaladan Press say the attack that morning was actually launched by the Burmese security forces, causing most villagers, including Hindu, to flee in terror towards the border that same day.

Abdul Salam, a 35 year old driver from Kha Maung Seik, said he was woken by the sound of machine gun fire at 4.30 am on August 25, coming from the Burmese Border Guard Police (BGP) post on a hill east of Kha Maung Seik. The BGP were firing down into the eastern section of the village. The firing continued for about one hour.

The BGP post at Kha Maung Seik is one of 10 BGP sub-posts under the Region 1, No. 2 BGP camp at nearby Hlaing Thi.

Abdul, who had spent the night at his father-in-law’s in the western section of the village, waited for a lull in the firing to go and search for his wife and children at home. Finding the house empty, he fled into the mountains, and was overjoyed to find his wife and children sheltering alive and well with other villagers.

There he learned that the machine gunfire had killed several villagers in their homes, including six Rohingya and three Hindus. There were two Hindu houses in the eastern village section, close to the BGP post. Three of the Rohingya killed were children: Syedul Amin, aged 12, Faruk, aged 10, and Zaiul Haque, aged 14.

The villagers hiding in the mountains again heard the sound of shooting at 1 pm, and so decided to flee to the Bangladesh border. Abdul estimated there were about 8,000 villagers trekking with him for two days to the border, including from Kha Maung Seik, Thit Tone Na Kwa Sone, Aung Tha Bye and Tamantha.

Abdul said his Hindu neighbours from Kha Maung Seik also fled together with his group to the border. Shown photos of the eight Hindu women who had testified to the ARSA massacre, he recognized them as Kha Maung Seik residents who had fled with him to Bangladesh.

He said that after crossing the border, the Hindu refugees had gone to stay in a separate Hindu camp near Kutupalong.

The testimony of refugees from Kha Maung Seik corroborates evidence in the October 2017 investigative report by Kaladan Press “Pre-planned Expulsion”, that Burma Army forces attacked numerous villages one-sidedly early in the morning of August 25, according to a pre-planned agenda.

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