Myanmar’s armed Rohingya militants deny terrorist links

Myanmar’s armed Rohingya militants deny terrorist links
Hard-line Buddhists including monks walk by a mosque during a protest march against the government's plan to give citizenship to some members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority community in Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar, on March 19, 2017. An armed militant group fighting Myanmar’s government on behalf of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority has issued a statement asserting its right to self-defense and denying links to any terrorist group. (AP Photo/Esther Htusan)
Updated 28 March 2017

Myanmar’s armed Rohingya militants deny terrorist links

Myanmar’s armed Rohingya militants deny terrorist links

BANGKOK, Thailand: An armed militant group fighting Myanmar’s government on behalf of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority has issued a statement asserting its right to self-defense and denying links to any terrorist group.
The statement, dated March 29 but released Tuesday through overseas sympathizers, is the first public announcement issued in the name of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which previously called itself the Faith Movement, or Harakah Al-Yaqin. Analysts including the Brussel-based International Crisis Group say it has been carrying out armed resistance.
The statement says the group “came forward to defend, salvage and protect Rohingya community in Arakan with our best capacities as we have the legitimate right under international law to defend ourselves in line with the principle of self-defense.” Arakan is another term for Rakhine, the western state of Myanmar where most of the country’s 1 million Rohingya live.
The Rohingya face severe discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and were the targets of inter-communal violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to camps for the internally displaced, where most remain. Most are denied citizenship because they are looked on as having migrated illegally from Bangladesh.
The statement issued 20 demands to the government for ensuring Rohingya rights.
In October last year, armed men killed nine Myanmar border guards, triggering a savage counterinsurgency sweep by the army in the Rohingya area of Rakhine. Alleged human rights abuses by the army, including rape and killing of civilians and the burning of more than 1,000 homes, caused international criticism and led to a UN Human Rights Council call last week for an independent international investigation.
Harakah Al-Yaqin has taken credit for the killings of the border guards, according to the International Crisis Group, and the government has accused them of being terrorists.
“We do not associate with any terrorist group across the world,” the Arakan group’s statement said. “We do not commit any form of terrorism against any civilian regardless of their religious and ethnic origin as we do not subscribe to the notion of committing terrorism for our legitimate cause. “
It said the group assures “the safety and wellbeing of all ethnic communities, their places of worship and properties” in Rakhine state.
An extensive report issued last December by the International Crisis Group said the Harakah Al-Yaqin “is led by a committee of Rohingya emigres in Saudi Arabia and is commanded on the ground by Rohingya with international training and experience in modern guerrilla war tactics. It benefits from the legitimacy provided by local and international fatwas (religious judicial opinions) in support of its cause and enjoys considerable sympathy and backing from Muslims in northern Rakhine state, including several hundred locally trained recruits.” It said the group did not appear to have jihadist motivations.
The report said that “the group apparently killed several informers.”
The group’s statement was signed by its leader, Ata Ullah, who has appeared in several videos showing him proclaiming the group’s positions while surrounded by armed followers.


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 23 January 2021

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.