Gu Dar Pyin massacre

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Gu Dar Pyin massacre
Location Gu Dar Pyin, Rakhine State, Myanmar
Coordinates 20°45′12″N 92°32′39″E / 20.7534°N 92.5441°E / 20.7534; 92.5441Coordinates: 20°45′12″N 92°32′39″E / 20.7534°N 92.5441°E / 20.7534; 92.5441
Date 27 August 2017
12:00 PM (UTC+6:30)
Target Rohingya Muslims
Attack type
Massacre
Weapons Machine guns, knives, rocket launchers, and grenades[1]
Deaths 75–400+[1][2]
Perpetrators Myanmar Army and armed locals

The Gu Dar Pyin massacre was a mass-killing of Rohingya people by the Myanmar Army and armed Rakhine locals that reportedly happened in the village of Gu Dar Pyin, in Rakhine State, Myanmar on 27 August 2017.[1][2] According to eyewitness testimony and video evidence first reported by the Associated Press, victims of the massacre were buried in five mass graves by the Myanmar Army and burnt with acid.[1][3] Rohingya village elders recorded a list of 75 people who may have died in the massacre, whilst locals estimate that up to 400 people were killed in the massacre.[4][5]

Background[edit]

The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority that mainly live in the northern region of Rakhine State, Myanmar, and have been described as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.[6][7][8] In modern times, the persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar dates back to the 1970s.[9] Since then, Rohingya people have regularly been made the target of persecution by the government and nationalist Buddhists. The tension between various religious groups in the country had often been exploited by the past military governments of Myanmar.[6] According to Amnesty International, the Rohingya have suffered from human rights violations under past military dictatorships since 1978, and many have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh as a result.[10] In 2005, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had assisted with the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh, but allegations of human rights abuses in the refugee camps threatened this effort.[11] In 2015, 140,000 Rohingyas remained in IDP camps after communal riots in 2012.[12]

On 25 August 2017, insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched their second large-scale attack on the Myanmar Army, leading to new "clearance operations" by the government, which critics argue targeted civilians.[13]

Massacre[edit]

According to survivors of the massacre, the Myanmar Army had planned out and prepared for the massacre prior to it happening; this was possibly done with the intent of enacting revenge for attacks made by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).[14] Locals in Gu Dar Pyin spotted soldiers buying twelve large containers of acid near the village market two days prior to the massacre.[1] On 27 August 2017, at around noon, over 200 soldiers from the Tatmadaw stormed Gu Dar Pyin from a Buddhist village to the south, firing on fleeing Rohingya villagers. Many of those fleeing hid in a coconut grove near the river and watched as the Myanmar Army and masked local collaborators looted homes of valuables before burning them down. Afterwards, Myanmar Army soldiers and their collaborators began searching for survivors in the grove, executing those found. According to eyewitnesses, children and elderly were thrown into burning huts by soldiers.[1][5]

Another group of soldiers surrounded Gu Dar Pyin from the north whilst soldiers were still searching in the grove, entrapping remaining Rohingyas in Gu Dar Pyin. Some survivors of the initial attack managed to hide under a bridge near Gu Dar Pyin as soldiers began burning corpses with acid and loading them onto three trucks heading for the cemetery. One eyewitness described watching the village burn for 16 hours until the Myanmar Army finally withdrew.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

Days after the massacre, survivors and Rohingyas from nearby villages went back to the charred remains of Gu Dar Pyin to retrieve victims left for dead and corpses the Myanmar Army had left behind.[1][5]

The Associated Press stated on 1 February 2018 that it had confirmed the massacre took place in Gu Dar Pyin, after interviewing over two dozen survivors and obtaining video evidence of the mass killing and its aftermath.[1] Myanmar's government responded by insisting the massacre never happened, and that only 19 "terrorists" were killed and "carefully buried" in the village.[15]

Responses[edit]

 Myanmar: The Myanmar government's information committee issued a statement on 2 February 2018, denying the accusations that a massacre took place, stating that a team of 17 government officials were sent to Gu Dar Pyin and returned without evidence or confirmation from villagers that it happened. The statement further claimed that only 19 "terrorists" were killed in Gu Dar Pyin by security forces "acting in self-defense".[16][17][18] An Associated Press spokesperson rejected the government's claims, saying, "The Associated Press stands by our reporting."[19]

 United States: The day after the Associated Press confirmed the existence of the mass graves, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a press briefing, "We are deeply, deeply troubled by those reports of mass graves[in Myanmar]. We are watching this very carefully. We remain focused on helping to ensure the accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations."[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Klug, Foster. "AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar". AP News. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Blumberg, Antonia (1 February 2018). "Mass Graves Suggest Systematic Killing Of Rohingya In Myanmar". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  3. ^ "AP confirms 5 previously unreported Myanmar mass graves". Ottawa Citizen. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  4. ^ "Five mass graves reported at a Rohingya village in Myanmar". ABC News. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c Klug, Foster (1 February 2018). ""They couldn't hide all the death": Unreported mass graves suggest Burma is covering up a genocide". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  6. ^ a b Kevin Ponniah (5 December 2016). "Who will help Myanmar's Rohingya?". BBC News. 
  7. ^ Matt Broomfield (10 December 2016). "UN calls on Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi to halt 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya Muslims". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  8. ^ "New wave of destruction sees 1,250 houses destroyed in Myanmar's Rohingya villages". International Business Times. 21 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Rohingya Refugees Seek to Return Home to Myanmar". Voice of America. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Amnesty International (2004). "Myanmar – The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied". Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "UNHCR threatens to wind up Bangladesh operations". New Age BDNEWS, Dhaka. 21 May 2005. Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  12. ^ Head, Jonathan (1 July 2013). "The unending plight of Burma's unwanted Rohingyas". Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Massacre at Tula Toli: Rohingya recall horror of Myanmar army attack". The Guardian. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  14. ^ Neuman, Scott. "AP Investigation Details Shocking Massacre, Mass Graves Of Myanmar Rohingya". NPR.org. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  15. ^ "Myanmar government denies AP report of Rohingya mass graves". Associated Press. ABC News. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  16. ^ "Myanmar denies report of new mass graves in Rakhine". Reuters. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  17. ^ "Myanmar denies reports of mass Rohingya graves in Rakhine state, says 'terrorists' buried in the area". 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  18. ^ "Myanmar denies report of new mass graves in Rakhine". bdnews24.com. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Myanmar | Gov't denies AP report of Rohingya mass graves". Macau Daily Times (澳門每日時報). 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  20. ^ "Myanmar: UN and US deeply troubled over new report of five mass graves". the Guardian. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.