Rohingya say their village is lost to Myanmar's spiralling conflict

Rohingya say their village is lost to Myanmar's spiralling conflict
Thu Sep 7, 2017 10:15:29

The villagers said the soldiers came first, firing indiscriminately. Then came civilians, accompanying the soldiers, to loot and burn.

Now in Bangladesh, 20 Muslims and Hindus gave interviews in which they recounted how they were forced out of their village of Kha Maung Seik in Myanmar's Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

"The military brought some Rakhine Buddhists with them and torched the village," said Kadil Hussein, 55.

"All the Muslims in our village, about 10,000, fled. Some were killed by gunshots, the rest came here. There's not a single person left."

Hussein is staying with hundreds of other new arrivals at the Kutapalong refugee settlement, already home to thousands of Rohingya who fled earlier.

Nearly 150,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched attacks on security forces in Rakhine State.

Reuters interviewed villagers from Kha Maung Seik and neighbouring hamlets, who described killings and the burning of homes in the military response to the insurgent attacks.

Reuters has been unable to verify their accounts. Access to the area has been restricted since October, when the same insurgent group attacked police posts, killing nine.

Myanmar says its forces are in a fight against "terrorists". State media has accused Rohingya militants of burning villages and killing civilians of all religions.

Myanmar does recognise the 1.1 million Rohingya as citizens, labelling them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The refugees from Kha Maung Seik, and from numerous other villages across the north of Rakhine State, say Myanmar forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists are intent on forcing them out.

One refugee, Body Alom, 28, said he hid in forest with thousands of others when the soldiers arrived. He waited for hours before emerging to look for his family.

He says he saw corpses in paddy fields, and eventually found his mother and brother dead with gunshot wounds. Two other villagers said they saw bodies in the fields.

"It wasn't safe, so I just left them," he said. "I had no chance to give them a burial."


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