Maung Nu Massacre

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On the night of August 24/25, 2017, militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched an offensive in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, attacking some 30 government security posts. Starting perhaps then or in the following days, Rohingya activists and supporters claim a string of massacres and other abuses against them, as collective punishment by the Myanmar (Burmese) government.

Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemn these attacks, citing perhaps three largest massacres as:

  • Chut Pyin, Aug. 27
  • Maung Nu, Aug. 27
  • Tula Toli, Aug. 30

In Maung Nu (locally called Monu Para, according to activists) it's claimed at least 82 Rohingya Muslim civilians were killed or went missing in the rampage, with perhaps 100, or up to 150 (including people from other villages), or even 200 were killed by some accounts. Dozens of alleged survivors have filled in the details, including a marked disagreement on the events of August 27.

The Maung Nu massacre stands apart, somewhat, as strikingly similar to and related to another massacre preceding it, which Rohingya activists deny - the Kha Maung Seik Massacre of Hindu villagers (Wikipedia article). In Maung Nu, In Kha Maung Seik, about half of the feared 86-93 bodies have been discovered, based on tips from female survivors the killers converted to Islam and kept - briefly - as "wives."

Sources

See also Militant Buddhism

See also #Timeline of Reports below.

Alleged Witnesses

* Badrudduza Hussein, 52: A former village administrator (12 years on the job), "Badru Duza" (per AP report) is one of two prominent businessmen whose houses people gathered in before most were killed. The other is his brother, Zahid Hossain. HRW mentions "Badrudduza and Zahid Hossain, two well-off men in Maung Nu village" [2] AP: "Duza and his brother counted their blessings. They were among the village's wealthiest men. They owned scores of cows and buffalo, and vast acres of rice." After people gathered in his house, he "watched through a slit in a closed window" as his brother was pulled out of his house and killed, and two of his sons were shot trying to escape. Right after that, Bodru hid upstairs in "a foot-high space under a large wooden container normally used to store rice. He covered his legs with rice sacks and curled into a ball, trying to disappear." "When Duza finally dared to emerge from his hiding place, he wondered how anyone could have survived." Somehow, all his family survived. "His wife, daughter, and five young sons" had hidden downstairs or in another home. His wife lost track of all but one child, but the fates spared each of them. His 9-year-old son Mohamed Ahasun told the soldiers "Duza had left four days earlier for another village. Baju slapped him, but let him go." The others were also spared with no explanation. He didn't find them right away, only after making a call after wandering alone for some time, but then they were all reuinted. [3] Note: A critical analysis of the ARSA claims "A few wealthy Rohingya Businessmen settled in Saudi Arabia are funding the entire operations of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army," perhaps through contacts with sympathetic businessmen inside the country, like Mr. Duza and his brother.

* Jamila Begum, 35: witnessed "a pair of soldiers — one was Baju — descended on Jamila's husband. With two-foot-long machetes, they hacked into his neck from both sides. He crumpled in the dirt, gagging on blood." "When Jamila rose to look out the window again, she saw her 16-year-old son dragged away by the collar of his shirt and tied to a tree, screaming, "I didn't do anything!" The gunshots rang out. Jamila could not bear to look." She survived somehow to report all this. [3] Note: different face and story from Khalida Begum, 35

* Mohammadul Hassan, 18: He recognized killed officer "Baju." He hid in the women's area, dressed as a woman, but was discovered. Then, he was taken with 2 brothers over by the pond, and made to kneel. "[soldiers] shot them all from behind and rolled them over to make sure they were dead. When Hassan unexpectedly opened his eyes, an officer sitting on the bank walked casually forward and fired a single rifle shot into his chest." Then he started playing dead, because he lost consciousness. "Hassan later regained consciousness, stumbled away, and survived." [3] Or, as he says to HRW: "Four soldiers took [me and my relatives] to the corner of the courtyard and shot us each twice in the back. I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I saw many men still tied and [the soldiers] were still killing people. Many were stabbed to death. When I tried to flee I was shot in the chest but was able to escape." He says around 30 men from his family were killed that day, including his brothers. [2] NYT Oct. 11 "Muhamedul Hassan, a Rohingya shopkeeper from a village called Monu Para... On Aug. 27, Mr. Hassan said, around 20 soldiers from a nearby army base stormed into Monu Para and ordered all the men and any boys older than 10 to report to the house of a prominent Rohingya cattle trader. The soldiers tied everyone’s hands behind their backs. They made them sit in the yard, heads down. Around 400 men and boys were hunched over, Mr. Hassan said. They were sweating through their shirts. An army sergeant whom the villagers knew [probably "Baju"] then pulled out a long, thin knife. in front of his eyes, dozens of people were decapitated or shot. He was shot three times — twice in the back and once in the chest — but all the bullets missed vital organs. After the soldiers left, Mr. Hassan said, he stumbled away to his house ... Doctors say the fact he is still alive is a miracle."

* Mohammad Nasir, 32: was tied with six other men until his ropes came loose and he alone ran for it. He was shot at, grazed on the elbow but otherwise unharmed. [3] "I want to know what the world has to say about all the people who've been killed," he says. "Why have they killed so many of us, I want to know." [4]

* Mohamed Yaha, 18: "...saw soldiers tying the hands of men and teenagers behind their backs ... When Yaha — who was not yet tied up — began running, soldiers fired in his direction. He escaped, but a bullet grazed his arm. (note: this is a distinct witness from the other arm-injured running Mohammed, age 32). [4]

* Shafir Rahman, 50: "...says he will never forget seeing one of the slaughter's first, horrific moments: a soldier hammering a four-inch nail into the side of a man's head with a rifle butt. ... Rahman, who lost his father, a brother, a 17-year-old son and two nephews, also saw soldiers wrapping corpses into orange and blue tarps and hauling them away with push-carts. "I don't know where they took them," he says. "I just saw what was left. There was blood everywhere."" [4]

* Kulilla Khatun, 65: "...has just one photo of her 81-year-old husband, Nazir Ahmed — a laminated image made several years ago. Khatun says soldiers dragged away him into a courtyard outside the house she was cowering in, and decapitated him with machetes. "People found his head, but they couldn't find his body," she says, eyes welling with tears." [4]

* Li Juhar, 32: "...has vivid memories of soldiers arriving in Maung Nu. "I was at home on Sunday morning when they came," he recalls. "They were shooting into the air, and straight into people's houses. It set off a panic." Juhar survived by hiding behind a pair of metal fuel drums." [4]

* Asmida, 20: "...lost her 9-month-old son when she tried to stop soldiers from dragging her husband away. Troops kicked her until she lost consciousness, and when she woke, the baby was gone and her husband was dead." She looked for the baby, then fled. Later, someone brought the baby (Mohamed Umair) to her alive. "It was unbelievable," she says of their reunion. "It was like touching the sky."" [4]

* Mohammad Ayas, 29: told HRW "he managed to hide in the rafters of the house and saw soldiers kill numerous people: “They are slaughtering them just like they are clearing the jungle with their thin, sharp, and long knives.”" [2]

* Abdul Jabar, 60/61: "Abdul Jabar, 61, never fails to carry a precious item with him in the front pocket of his shirt — an identification card belonging to his son, who was slain." [4] Told HRW "the soldiers made the men kneel down as they struck them with the butts of their rifles and kicked them repeatedly before killing them: “[T]hey killed people from the back with machetes and they also fired on them with their guns.”" [2]

* Mustafa, 22: saw hacked children in a pit, and bodies being taken away. [2]

* Khotiaz, 28, and a 30 year-old- woman: report fondling and robbery, possible rape, but not so much killing among the women.

* Mohamed Zubair, 40, boat captain (Aug. 25 witness): HRW: Zubair said, following the pre-massacre August 25 clashes he "identified the soldier who seized the boat as Staff Sergeant Baju from an army camp just south of the market occupied by Light Infantry Battalion 564. Zubair said he watched the soldiers load the bodies, some of which he recognized as young Rohingya men from the area." [2] Gowen (Washington Post) heard he fainted upon seeing bodies loaded "including those of two 13-year-old boys he had known well" on the 26th, following the massacre on the 25th. "The officers accepted the keys with a warning for the captain: “You will also be killed.” The captain eventually escaped unharmed and fled with the others." [1]

* Mohammed Roshid, 55 a rice farmer (Aug. 25 witness): "heard the gunfire and fled with his wife and children, but his 80-year-old father, who walks with a stick, wasn’t as nimble. Roshid said he saw a soldier grab Yusuf Ali and slit his throat with such ferocity that the old man was nearly decapitated." [1]

* Soe Win (not a Rohingya name?), a 10th-grade teacher (Aug. 25 witness): “We were all watching what the military did. They slaughtered them one by one. And the blood flowed in the streets.” [1]

* Mohammed Showife, 23, an auto mechanic (Aug. 25 witness): said on Aug. 25, soldiers shot a neighbor and told them they had to leave soon. Some leave, but many remain for a few days. [1]

* Mohammed Rafique, 17 (Aug. 25 witness): "whose right hip had been run clean through by a bullet, back to front" in the Aug. 25 attack, fled to the forest. [1]

* Khalida Begum, 35 (Aug. 25 witness): Mohamed Rafique's mother, with the rest of the family, joined him hiding in the woods on August 27 (day three), with no mention of a massacre this day. [1] Note: different face and story from Jamila Begum 35

False Claims?

The Maung Nu massacre story may be untrue, and worse yet, the story might be concocted to launder a genuine massacre by the ARSA or allies. What might be the real Maung Nu massacre may have happened in the first hours of the ARSA offensive, on August 25, in the Hindu villages of the Kha Mung Seik area far to the north.

Timeline of Reports

Considering the possible conflation between two reported massacres of remarkably similar details (see Monitor article linked above), it seems worth considering who said what about each one and when. For reference Kha Maung Seik is the alleged August 25 massacre of Hindu villagers, and Maung Nu is the alleged August 27 massacre of Muslim Rohingya villagers.

  • August 25, Kha Maung Seik: alleged massacre - no immediate reports located
  • August 27, Maung Nu: alleged massacre - no immediate reports located
  • September 5, Kha Maung Seik: Irrawady report "The Daily Star said that the displaced villagers estimated that more than 80 members of their communities in Rakhine State had been killed by unidentified armed men ... reportedly killed by Muslim militants" An 8-yar-old girl was away working and lived - "One of her elder sisters is among eight women who said they were initially abducted by militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), but now sheltering at a relief camp in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong District. "
  • September 6, Kha Maung Seik: Government-Buddhists did it Reuters report "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." One says “All the Muslims in our village, about 10,000, fled." The army is blamed for initial assault, with civilian Buddhist thugs brought in for the massacre. Some of the 8 captured women were presented for this article, telling what they now insist was a false story: "A group of Hindu women refugees in Kutapalong said they saw eight Hindu men killed by Buddhist Rakhines after they refused to attack Muslims. “They asked my husband to join them to kill Rohingya but he refused, so they killed him,” said Anika Bala, 15. Six months pregnant, she said Muslims helped her get to Bangladesh."
  • Sept 12, Kha Maung Seik: video: Reka Dhar says she doesn't know who were the masked men that hacked her husband to death, but some nice Muslims agreed to help her and others escape "because we promised them we would convert to their religion."
  • September 16, Maung Nu: First mention of a massacre here, and it's on the wrong day.Washington Post front page story "The latest wave of violence began Aug. 25, when (ARSA) attacked 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state, killing 12. ... The soldiers arrived in (Maung Nu) just after 8 a.m., the villagers said, ... The military’s retribution for a Rohingya militant attack on police posts earlier that day had begun." Photo caption adds: "Mohammed Rafique, center with stick, was wounded during an attack on his village in Burma on Aug. 25. His mother, Khalida Begum, sits to his left."
  • September 16, Kha Maung Seik: Two young Hindu widows have been released and speak on video (English subtitles)
  • September 21, Kha Maung Seik: Al Jazeera English video report from the camps speaks to two others of the kidnapped girls (unknown to reporter). Annica Bhar (15, pregnant, cited above) tells how "masked men" killed her husband and others while she and a friend (name spoken but unclear) "were spared" (unexplained). The reporter suggests it was government forces behind it.
  • September 25, Kha Maung Seik: Following tips from the freed women, another 17 bodies were found, for a total of 45. A press conference is held at the site where government officials, Hindu locals, witnesses, and community leaders agree ARSA was behind the crimes one month earlier, spurring numerous news reports over the following days. (Reuters - Daily Mail - AFP ...)
  • September 27, Kha Maung Seik: ARSA tweet "Burmese Govt has to Stop 'Victim Blaming', Allow Investigations into Atrocities; ARSA Denies of Targetting Civilians." Attached statement denies specific crimes alleged in the Hindu villages on August 25. Someone posts a snippet of this longer video of the captive Hindu women thanking the Muslims for saving them from the Government-Hindu massacre.
  • October 3/4, Maung Nu: Human Rights Watch report with revised massacre date of August 27 and more alleged details. Emphasis is given to the alleged removal of bodies, raising the question of where (or if) those bodies will turn up.
''Witnesses said that after the killings, the soldiers gathered the bodies on green tarps and loaded them onto pushcarts, then brought the bodies to military vehicles. The removal of bodies took hours, several witnesses said.
“I saw outside that there were piles of dead bodies.” Mustafa said. “I could see the soldiers using carts [to move the bodies] and I recognized one of the carts was mine.” Mustafa said he heard the sounds of the trucks and vehicles for four hours.

The August 25 clashes are mentioned as sparking the massacre, but no allegations of a massacre on that day, in either or any locale, is mentioned. It doesn't seem HRW has had anything to say regarding the alleged Kha Maung Seik massacre, here or anywhere. Another HRW report on the alleged Tula Toli Massacre of Rohingya (Aug. 30, and pretty close to Kha Maung Seik) explains "While there have been numerous reports of abuses committed by ARSA militants, Human Rights Watch has not been able to independently verify those accounts, in part because the Burmese government continues to deny independent human rights investigators and journalists access to northern Rakhine State, where most victims would be located." (that is, most victims of ARSA violence stay in the country, whereas the other side has more accessible people in the refugee camps telling their stories - sometimes under duress, after being kidnapped amidst a massacre.)

  • October 12, Maung Nu: Shaikh Azizur Rahman write in the Guardian "A group of Hindu women who crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh from Myanmar after surviving the attack claimed the Myanmar military carried out the massacre. However, when they were subsequently returned to Myanmar by security forces, they offered a different version of events, blaming Rohingya militants" (incorrect - this was said repeatedly inside the Hindu camp in Bagladesh). "Rohingya refugees have accused the Myanmar government of playing “dirty tricks” over the killings." (has a challenge to the story been sown? see Oct 3/4 above, removal of bodies)
  • October 18, Neither? Amnesty International report on alleged mass killings, all of Rohingy by government forces, highlinghts five large massacres of 12 or more people. Neither Maung Nu nor Kha Maung Seik is listed. That's not just a mix-up; all five they name use varying names for five other separately alleged massacres or identifiably different areas (in Tula Toli (given as Min Gyi), Chut Pyin, Chein Kar Li, Koe Tan Kauk, and Inn Din). It's not clear if these means anything, but it might reflect on some confusion or concern on their part about these two incidents.
    • November 14, Maung Nu: The Guardian "Fortify Rights and the Holocaust Museum, whose Simon-Skjodt centre works to prevent genocide around the world, singled out three villages as sites of massacres." Tula Toli, Chut Pyin, and Maung Nu. (not Kha Maung Seik)
    • November 25, Maung Nu: interviews for December AP report...
    • December 20, Maung Nu: AP report
    • Dec. 21, AP report photos mirror Shafir Rahman, 50: "...saw soldiers wrapping corpses into orange and blue tarps and hauling them away with push-carts. "I don't know where they took them," he says. "I just saw what was left. There was blood everywhere." (was it north?)
    • Space for more reminders - apparently we're supposed to remember this story, and not the other one.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 ‘Blood flowed in the streets’: Refugees from one Rohingya hamlet recount days of horror By Annie Gowen, Washington Post, September 16, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Burma: Military Massacres Dozens in Rohingya Village Soldiers Shot, Stabbed Men and Boys in Maung Nu, Rakhine State - Human Rights Watch, October 4, 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Myanmar army massacred dozens of Rohingya, survivors say - Todd Pitman, Associated Press, December 20, 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Myanmar Massacre Survivors Live Amid Reminders Of Tragedy - Todd Pitman, Associated Press, December 21, 2017