Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?


The Rohingya insurgency is starting to gain traction.

Pogroms and low-level anti-Muslim violence erupted in 2012 during Myanmar’s democratic transition. In large part this was allowed to fester because the international community was trying to support the new democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

It was no surprise that after years of systematic human rights abuses, including the denial of citizenship rights or any other legal protections, and with the government limiting the ability of Rohingya people to work or to have food and medicine coming in, that a full-on insurgency broke out.

The insurgency was nascent for much of 2016 and the first half of 2017. It began as Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY), led by Attullah Abu Ammar Jununi, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia before he returned home to lead the struggle.

The group publicly refers to itself as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Low-level attacks began to occur on a more sustained basis in 2016. Much of the violence in Rakhine state was perpetrated by government-backed vigilantes, as state security forces did little to curtail them.

But ARSA was clearly responsible for some of the violence. And, very clearly, it seemed to provoke heavy-handed responses. In October 2016, ARSA, armed with machetes and other primitive weapons, staged attacks on police posts.

The government responded with pogroms, including attacks on civilians and arson attacks in Rohingya villages. The United Nations estimates violence in October and November 2016 led to about 87,000 Rohingya refugees to cross into southeastern Bangladesh, where about 400,000 had settled previously.

Earlier this month, two days after U.N. Special Representative Kofi Annan issued his report on the Myanmar government’s alleged mishandling of the 11 million Rohingya, about 150 ARSA militants attacked 24 to 30 police outposts in Rakhine state. ARSA claims the attacks were pre-emptive and done in self-defense.

Those attacks were a tactical failure: about 77 militants were killed, compared to only a dozen police, in the fighting. But the attacks were not meant to be tactical successes. They were meant to be a strategic victory.

ARSA knew all too well that the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) could respond only one way: with an extremely heavy-handed “clearance operation” and total disregard for human rights. By Aug. 28, the death toll reached at least 104.

In the days after, thousands of refugees crossed into Bangladesh, with an additional 20,000 stuck in no man’s land along the border. Earlier, about 6,000 refugees, mainly women and children came under fire from the Tatmadaw as they tried to cross the frontier.

Human rights monitors witnessed Rohingya villages being set on fire. Human Rights Watch reported that in the four days following the Aug. 25 attacks, the number of villages burned down was significantly larger than the number burned last October and November. rfa.org

ARSA leader Ata Ullah was born in Karachi, Pakistan to a (Bangladeshi) migrant father, who claims to have had fled the religious persecution in Rakhine State in Myanmar (also known as Arakan, Burma). At an early age, Ullah’s family moved to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he was enrolled in an Islamic school.

It is possible that the ARSA leader trained with Libya rebels, but those reports can not be confirmed.

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On 27 August 2017, ARSA insurgents were accused of killing six Hindus. According to the State Counselor’s office, twelve Hindu families on a business trip in Myinlut, Maungdaw Township were returning to the district capital of Maungdaw, when they accidentally wandered into the conflict zone. The families fled into the District Court Building (which was still under construction) in an attempt to seek shelter from the fighting, but when they entered the building they were allegedly shot by ARSA insurgents already inside. The incident left two Hindu men, one woman and three children dead and two women seriously injured. The victims were sent to the Maungdaw Hospital, while six others arrived at the Four-Mile camp at 6:00 AM and left for Buthidaung where their relatives were residing.

A Hindu woman from Rakhine state: “Myanmar people kidnapped by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), so I escaped to Bangladesh”.

In a statement issued by her office on Facebook on Wednesday, Suu Kyi said the government had “already started defending all the people in Rakhine in the best way possible” and warned against misinformation that could mar relations with other countries.

She referred to tweets of images of killings posted by Turkey’s deputy prime minister that he later deleted because they were not even from Myanmar.
turk misinfo
“She said that kind of fake information which was inflicted on the deputy prime minister was simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different countries and with the aim of promoting the interests of the terrorists,” the social media statement said. news.com.au

India shares Myanmar’s concern about ‘extremist violence’: PM Modi

On 7 July 2013 a series of ten bombs exploded in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bodh Gaya, India. Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts. Three other devices were defused by bomb-disposal squads at a number of locations in Gaya.

The temple itself and the Bodhi Tree (where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment) were undamaged.However, the Archaeological Survey of India confirmed damage to new structures in the temple complex. International figures, including the Dalai Lama, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, condemned the attacks.On 4 November 2013, the National Investigation Agency announced that the Indian Mujahideen was responsible for the bombings

‘Rohingyas to be deported, don’t preach India on refugees’, says Kiren Rijiju

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