Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in last year’s turmoil, rights group says

Hindu women cry near the bodies of their dead family members in Ye Baw Kyaw village, Maungdaw in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in this September 27, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2018
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Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in last year’s turmoil, rights group says

  • Myanmar’s military responded to the insurgent raids with harsh reprisals that forced some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the mainly Buddhist country
  • While Rakhine was home mainly to Buddhists and Muslims before the crisis, it also has a small but longstanding Hindu minority as well as several other smaller ethnic groups

YANGON: Rohingya militants massacred Hindu villagers during last year’s uprising in Myanmar’s Rakhine, Amnesty International said Wednesday in a report that sheds fresh light on the complex ethnic rivalries in the state.
The killings took place on August 25, 2017, the report said, the same day that the Rohingya insurgents staged coordinated deadly raids on police posts that tipped the state into crisis.
Myanmar’s military responded to the insurgent raids with harsh reprisals that forced some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the mainly Buddhist country where they have faced persecution for years.
The UN says the army crackdown amounted to “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya, with soldiers and vigilante mobs accused of killing civilians and burning down villages.
But the Rohingya militants have also been accused of abuses.
Those include the mass killing of Hindus in the far north of Rakhine, where the military took reporters — including AFP — to witness the exhumation of putrid bodies from a shallow grave in September.
The militants, known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), denied responsibility at the time.
But Amnesty International said Wednesday that a new investigation had confirmed the group killed 53 Hindus “execution-style” — mostly children — in the Kha Maung Seik village cluster in northern Maungdaw.
“Accountability for these atrocities is every bit as crucial as it is for the crimes against humanity carried out by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine state,” said Tirana Hassan, crisis response director at Amnesty International.
Citing interviews with eight survivors, the rights group said dozens of people were rounded up, blindfolded and marched out of town by masked men and Rohingya villagers in plain clothes.
“They slaughtered the men. We were told not to look at them... They had knives. They also had some spades and iron rods,” 18-year-old Raj Kumari told Amnesty.
He said he hid in the bush and watched as his father, brother and uncle were killed.
The report said that in a separate village nearby called Ye Bauk Kyar, 46 Hindu men, women and children disappeared on the same day. It cited information from local Hindus who believe they were killed by ARSA.
While Rakhine was home mainly to Buddhists and Muslims before the crisis, it also has a small but longstanding Hindu minority — many of whom were brought in by British colonizers looking for cheap labor — as well as several other smaller ethnic groups.
“The killers fled to Bangladesh, there are many witnesses but we have not had any justice,” Hindu community leader Ni Maul said from Rakhine state.
“People have less interest in these killings,” he added, compared to reporting on the atrocities against the Rohingya.
Myanmar has faced a flood of international condemnation for the its persecution of the Rohingya, who are stateless and have been targeted by bouts of communal violence.
The government denies any widespread abuses and has accused rights groups of a pro-Rohingya bias, while highlighting the suffering of other ethnic groups swept up in the violence.
“It is important that the international pressure on Myanmar won’t favor ARSA’s actions,” government spokesman Zaw Htay said when asked about the Amnesty report.
But David Mathieson, an independent analyst, said the report should strengthen the argument for Myanmar to allow independent investigations into the crisis.
Authorities have severely restricted media access to the conflict zone and barred UN investigators from entering the country.
“Failing to grant access to humanitarian aid workers and researchers and journalists will continue the official culture of denial, which has zero credibility in the eyes of the world,” he said.


Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

In this Wednesday, March 20, 2019 file photo, a woman prays at the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide, in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (AP)
Updated 20 July 2019
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Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

  • The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II

THE HAGUE: The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday slashed the state’s liability for 350 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, saying peacekeepers had only a “slim” chance of preventing their deaths.
The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified residents who had sought safety in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the besieged Muslim enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
The lightly armed Dutch troops eventually became overwhelmed and shut the gates to new arrivals before allowing Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic to evacuate the refugees.
The men and boys were separated and taken in buses to their deaths, their bodies dumped in mass graves.
Judges, however, on Friday reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent the Dutch state’s responsibility for compensation to the families in a case brought by the Mothers of Srebrenica victims’ organization.
The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II and the darkest episode in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
“The Dutch State bears very limited liability in the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ case,” the Supreme Court said. “That liability is limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims.”

After the ruling, Mothers’ president Munira Subasic, who lost family members including her son, husband and father in the massacre, expressed disappointment.
“Today we experienced humiliation upon humiliation. We could not even hear the judgment in our own language because we were not given a translator,” she told AFP.
At Srebrenica “every life was taken away 100 percent. There is little we can do with 10 percent, but yes, the responsibility still lies where it does.”
“I only have two bones. I have found less than 10 percent of his body,” she added, referring to her teenage son.
The Dutch government accepted responsibility, saying it was relieved that “finally there was some clarity.”
A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014. In 2017 the appeals court upheld that decision before it was referred to the Supreme Court.
The lower court had said in 2017 that the Dutch actions meant the Muslims were “denied a 30 percent chance of avoiding abuse and execution,” and thus the Dutch state was liable for 30 percent of damages owed to families.
The Supreme Court agreed that “the state did act wrongfully in relation to the evacuation of the 5,000 refugees” in the compound, including 350 Muslim men the Bosnian Serbs were unaware of.
It said the Dutch peacekeepers “failed to offer these 350 male refugees the choice to stay where they were, even though that would have been possible.”
But explaining the decision to reduce the liability, the Supreme Court said that “the chance that the male refugees would have escaped the Bosnian Serbs had they been given the choice to stay was slim, but not negligible.”
Reacting to the ruling, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said in a statement the cabinet would “examine how to best implement the liability for damages suffered by the relatives in such a way it does justice to the Supreme Court ruling.”

In a swipe at the failure of other foreign powers to act during the 1995 crisis, the top court added that the “chance of Dutchbat (the Dutch UN mission) receiving effective support from the international community was slim.”
Former Dutchbat soldiers attending the case said they were disappointed on behalf of the victims’ families.
“I think the final judgment is a bit disappointing, especially when you see the court ruling of 30 percent and now it’s downgraded to 10 percent,” said Remko de Bruijne, a former Dutch blue helmet who served at Srebrenica.
“I think that’s not fair for the Mothers of Srebrenica but, on the other hand, now it’s clear,” he told AFP.
Srebrenica has cast a long shadow over The Netherlands, forcing a the government to resign in 2002 after a scathing report on the role of politicians in the episode.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently serving a life sentence in jail in The Hague after being convicted of genocide over Srebrenica and war crimes throughout the 1990s.
Ex-military chief Mladic, 76, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” is currently appealing a life sentence on similar charges at an international tribunal in The Hague.
Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic’s long-time patron during the war, was on trial in The Hague at the time of his death in 2006.