So are the Rohingya jihadist terrorists? The photo below, with ARSA posing with AK47s would seem to suggest they are. So does making the announcement to cease all military offensive operations, which implies they were previously at war, not doing humanitarian work.
Myanmar: Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army declares unilateral ceasefire
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), notified as a terrorist organisation by Myanmar, have declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire, beginning on Sunday, to enable aid groups to help ease a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s northwest Rakhine state.
About 290,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh after the military launched counter-offensive operations following attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) terrorists on 30 police posts and an army base on 25 August.
Around 30,000 non-Muslim civilians have been displaced in Rakhine as dozens of their members were killed in attacks by ARSA.
Urging humanitarian aid to all victims of the crisis, ARSA, in a statement yesterday, called on the Myanmar government to cease all military offensive operations and participate in assisting the victims.
“ARSA strongly encourages all concerned humanitarian actors resume their humanitarian assistance to all victims of the humanitarian crisis, irrespective of ethnic or religious background during the ceasefire period,” stated ARSA in the statement.
The impact of the unilateral ceasefire by ARSA remains unclear because the group does not seem to have been able to put up significant resistance against Myanmar’s military.
Myanmar says its military is conducting clearance operations to clear insurgents of the ARSA, which the government has declared a terrorist organisation.
The Myanmar government said that only 421 people have died as of Friday.
The UN yesterday said humanitarian agencies operating in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh urgently need US$77 million to assist people who have fled violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Mr. Robert Watkins, said, “With the movement of people showing no signs of stopping, it is vital that agencies working in Cox’s Bazar have the resources they need to provide emergency assistance to incredibly vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes and have arrived in Bangladesh with nothing.”
Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?
6 Sept 2017
More than 100,000 Rohingya people have fled their homes since 25 August. They are trying to escape violence, following a military counter-offensive
against Rohingya militants who attacked police posts.
The insurgents claim to be acting on the behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya – but who are they?
Who are Arsa?
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) operates in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar, where the mostly-Muslim Rohingya people have faced persecution. The Myanmar government has denied them citizenship and sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Clashes erupt periodically between ethnic groups but in the last year, an armed Rohingya insurgency has grown. Arsa, previously known by other names including Harakah al-Yaqin, has killed more than 20 police officers and members of the security forces.
On 25 August it attacked police posts in Rakhine state, killing 12 people in its biggest attack so far. In turn, this prompted a counter-insurgency clampdown from the security forces.
The government calls it a terrorist organisation and says its leaders have trained abroad. The International Crisis Group (ICG) also says the militants have trained abroad and released a report in 2016 saying the group was led by Rohingya people living in Saudi Arabia. The ICG says Arsa’s leader is Ata Ullah, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia.
However a group spokesman countered this, telling the Asia Times newspaper that it had no links to jihadist groups and only existed to fight for Rohingya people to be recognised as an ethnic group.
What kind of weapons do they have?
The government says the 25 August attack was done with knives and home-made bombs.
When did Arsa start?
The spokesman who talked to the Asia Times said Arsa had been training people since 2013. But their first attack was in October 2016, when they killed nine police officers.
What are its aims?
Arsa says its aims are to “defend, salvage and protect” the Rohingya against state repression “in line with the principle of self-defence”.
Arsa also rejects the terrorist label, saying it does not attack civilians. However, there are reports of it killing informers while training members
The ICG says Arsa members are young Rohingya men angered by the state’s response to deadly riots in 2012. Young men trying to escape the area used to be able to do so by boat to Malaysia, but the Malaysian navy blocked that route in 2015, which led to thousands of people being stranded at sea and, the group says, others considering violence.
This is in the context of extreme poverty, statelessness and restrictions on Rohingya people’s movement. The security forces crack down heavily on violence; a UN report in February described the “devastating cruelty” of soldiers who had beaten, raped and killed people in the region while it was in lockdown following the October 2016 attacks.
- The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the scale of the destruction now is “far greater” than last year.
What effect has the insurgency had so far?
The attacks on security forces have prompted a crackdown from the military, who say they are fighting against civilian-attacking militants. More than 100,000 Rohingya people have fled their villages and crossed the border to Bangladesh, where refugee camps are full. Many of them say the military, assisted by Buddhist monks, have razed villages and killed civilians. The government says Buddhists and Hindus have also fled attacks in the area.
Media access to Rakhine, where the violence is, is severely restricted, making it hard to verify the situation on the ground.
Campaigners and politicians around the world have expressed concern at the refugees’ situation, warning of a lack of shelter, water and food. There are reports of children being injured in landmines as they try to leave the country.
A UN representative, and the Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, called on leader Aun Sang Suu Kyi to stop the violence. Ms Suu Kyi has previously said there is “a lot of hostility” in the area but ethnic cleansing is “too strong a term” to use.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), also known by its former name Harakah al-Yaqin (English: Faith Movement) is a Rohingya insurgent group active in the jungles of northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. According to a December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group, it is led by Ata Ullah, a Rohingya man who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Other members of its leadership include a committee of Rohingya émigrés in Saudi Arabia.
According to the lead interrogator of ARSA suspects jailed in Sittwe, Police Captain Yan Naing Latt, the group’s goal is to create a “democratic Muslim state for the Rohingya” in Myanmar.