Five Rohingya found dead after Arakan Army arrest

The group denies killing the men, saying it's a result of warring drug gangs.
By RFA Burmese
2024.04.24
Five Rohingya found dead after Arakan Army arrest The entrance of Maungdaw city taken on an unknown date
RFA

Five Rohingya Muslims arrested by ethnic minority insurgents in western Myanmar have been found dead, sources close to the victims’ families told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.

The five ethnic Rohingya men were arrested by the Arakan Army in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw township on April 17, they said. Their bodies were found on Monday. The Arakan Army denied killing the men.

Rohingya Muslims have faced persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for generations. Recently, they have been targeted by the junta in a recruitment drive to bolster their army’s numbers. Many Rohingya have been forced to move into poorly equipped camps because of a surge in fighting between members of the Arakan Army, drawn largely from the Buddhist community, and junta forces. Travel bans and security blockades have further affected many residents of the state.

The five men, from Ah Bu Gyar village,  had not been heard from after they were detained, one person close to the family of one of the dead said. 

The Arakan Army detained the men for interrogation after clashing with members of a Muslim insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, near the village, residents said. 

“They have been arrested since April 17 and have not been able to contact their families. [The Arakan Army] said they would release them,” said one resident, who declined to be identified for security reasons. “But on April 22, some villagers found them at the Ywet Nyo Taung creek shore.”

The families did not  know why the five were killed, one relative said, adding that relatives were also not allowed to collect the bodies.

Sources close to the families identified the victims as Abdul Amen, 54, a former village secretary, Malawe Mohamed Sayad, 40, Aisalam, 61, Arbul Karlam and Numar Lal Hakem 27.

Arakan Army spokesman Khaing Thukha told RFA his group did not arrest the five residents, nor did it kill detainees. The group had “nothing to do,” with the case, he said.

“We would never do this kind of lawless and unjust killing,” Khaing Thuka told RFA.

Khaing Thukha said various insurgent groups and drugs gangs operated in the region

“It’s a complex area,” he said. “Among the criminal gangs, there are sometimes murders because one side is not satisfied with the other.”

He also said that people opposed to the Arakan Army could be trying to damage its reputation in the community.

Arakan Army fighters attacked a police station near the border with Bangladesh, near Maungdaw township’s Ywet Nyo Taung village, on April 17, residents said. Almost all villagers in the area had abandoned their homes and fled after the attack.

A Myanmar army offensive in the area launched after insurgent attacks on police posts in 2017 sparked an exodus of some 750,000 refugees into Bangladesh.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.

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