The Burmese government has denied allegations that the army has killed, raped, and set homes on fire.
Rohingya refugees escaping the conflict in western Rakhine state say their villages are being razed to the ground, while telling tales of mass atrocities, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians at the hands of security forces.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on Aug. 25 launched deadly attacks on 30 security posts in Burma, also known as Myanmar, in an attack that was reportedly widely condemned by the international community. The group was declared a terrorist organization by the government. In an interview with the Guardian, an Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army fighter recently said, “We want our rights. If it is not happening, either we die or they die.
Accounts given to the Telegraph claim that Rohingya children have been beheaded and people were burned alive by Burmese government forces.
Abdul Rahman, of Chun Pyin village, said that he saw his brother marched into a house with other Rohingya men before it was set on fire.
“We found (my other family members) in the fields. They had marks on their bodies from bullets and some had cuts. My two nephews, their heads were off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was shot with a gun,” he claimed, per The Telegraph.
The United Nations on Saturday said that some 76,000 refugees have crossed into Bangladesh over the weekend, The Australian reported.
The Burmese military and government have previously claimed that security forces find it difficult to distinguish between armed insurgents and civilians in the state.
According to an AFP photographer (photo below), Rohingya fighters recently burned houses in Maungdaw township in Rakhine.
On Sunday, the Burmese government told Qatar’s state-run Al Jazeera TV that the military hasn’t “murdered, raped, and set homes of civilians on fire.”
Leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecution, Reuters reported.
“Aung San Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is, alas, besmirching the reputation of Burma,” Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.
“I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities,” he said.
On Aug. 28, Aung San Suu Kyi has accused Rohingya fighters of burning homes and using child soldiers in a recent surge of violence, AFP reported. The fighters have denied those charges.
The Burmese military said that around 400 people, including 370 Rohingya insurgents, 13 security forces, two government officials, and 14 civilians have died in the violence since Aug. 25.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch published satellite photos, showing that some 700 buildings were destroyed in a single Rohingya village.
“This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine State may be far worse than originally thought,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Yet this is only one of 17 sites that we’ve located where burnings have taken place. Independent monitors are needed on the ground to urgently uncover what’s going on.”