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Rohingya insurgents regrouping to fight Myanmar state: report

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08 January 2018

Rohingya Muslim insurgents are reported to be building up strength to fight Myanmar state, to defend themselves against what they call state-sponsored terrorism, even as they demand that they be consulted before making any decision affecting their future.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) had launched raids on the Myanmar security forces on 25 August, sparking sweeping counter-insurgency operations in the Muslim-majority north of the Rakhine province. The militants were forced to flee and an exodus of some 650,000 Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh followed.

These insurgents have now been bolstered by wider international support to the refugees, including from the United Nations and is reported to be looking for arms support to fight the Myanmarese security forces, say reports.

The United Nations condemned the Myanmar military campaign as ethnic cleansing of Muslim minority by the country's Buddhist majority.

Despite the military crackdown in August, small insurgent group have continued to launch attacks until last week, when its fighters ambushed a Myanmar military truck, wounding several members of the security forces.

''ARSA has ... no other option but to combat 'Burmese state-sponsored terrorism' against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community,'' the group said in a statement signed by leader Ata Ullah and posted on Twitter.

''Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future.''

The ARSA claimed responsibility for the Friday ambush but gave no details of the clash.

A Myanmar government spokesman said the insurgents were trying to delay the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh under a plan the two governments have been working on.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the refugees but an increase in insurgent activity in Myanmar now threatens to delay the process of repartiation of genuine refugees and this is what the insurgents are looking for.

It is not the refugees, but the insurgents that are complaining that they have not been consulted on the plan.

Myanmarese authorities say they have been negotiationg with leaders of the Muslim Rohingyas and the Buddhist community and have rejected ARSA call for Rohingyas to be consulted.

''We will not accept terrorism and fight against them until the end,'' the spokesman said, adding that no one should offer any support to the group.

ARSA, however, dismissed any links to Islamist militant groups and say it is fighting to end the oppression of the Rohingya people.

ARSA did not reveal the whereabouts of its leader Ata Ullah, but Myanmar suspects the insurgents who fled to Bangladesh have slipped back into Myanmar to launch attacks.

A military spokesman declined to make any immediate comment about the security situation in the north of Rakhine State. Details of the repatriation plan are also yet to be finalised.

The Rohingya immigrants have for years been denied citizenship and have remained illegal immigrants in Myanmar for years. The terms of their repatriation are also yet to be finalised it is also not known whether they return to their homes or be resettled in camps.

Rohingya have for years been denied citizenship, freedom of movement and access to services such as healthcare. Myanmar regards them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.





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