Tula Toli massacre

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Tula Toli massacre
LocationTula Toli, Rakhine State, Myanmar
Coordinates21°08′03″N 92°19′25″E / 21.13405°N 92.32348°E / 21.13405; 92.32348Coordinates: 21°08′03″N 92°19′25″E / 21.13405°N 92.32348°E / 21.13405; 92.32348
Date30 August 2017 (UTC+6:30)
TargetRohingya Muslims
Attack type
Massacre
Deaths500+[1]
PerpetratorsMyanmar Army

The Tula Toli massacre was a mass-killing of Rohingya people that purportedly occurred during a Myanmar Army clearance operation in the village of Tula Toli (also known as Min Gyi), Rakhine State, near the Bangladesh–Myanmar border. According to eyewitnesses, Burmese soldiers allegedly carried out the massacre with the support of local Rakhines who also resided in the village.[2] Eyewitnesses claim that at least 200 women and 300 children were killed; however, this has not been verified and there is no official estimate.[1]

Satellite images collected before and after the massacre by Amnesty International showed Rohingya neighbourhoods in Tula Toli completely destroyed, whilst Rakhine neighbourhoods remained intact.[3][4]

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.[5][6][7] In modern times, the persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar dates back to the 1970s.[8] 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.[5] 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.[9] 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.[10] In 2015, 140,000 Rohingyas remained in IDP camps after communal riots in 2012.[11]

On 9 October 2016, insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched their first large-scale attack on Burmese border posts on the Bangladesh–Myanmar border,[12] with a second large-scale attack on 25 August 2017, leading to new "clearance operations" by the government, one of which was conducted in Tula Toli.[2]

Prelude[edit]

According to eyewitnesses, a group of around 90 Myanmar Army soldiers arrived in Tula Toli three days prior to the massacre and ordered the villagers to an area east of the settlement, which locals call "the sands" because of the area's infertile soil. The soldiers' commander ordered the villagers not to flee and to continue farming and fishing, and warned them that "If you run, we will shoot [you]." Villagers who escaped the massacre claim that during the briefing, soldiers and Rakhine collaborators went to all the huts inhabited by Rohingyas to loot valuables and detain people at random.[2]

The day before the massacre at Tula Toli, residents from a village across the river called Dual Toli swam over to escape an attack by soldiers on their village. According to eyewitnesses, ten of those fleeing the attack drowned in the river. Dual Toli was razed and burnt to the ground as the residents of Tula Toli watched helplessly.[2]

Massacre[edit]

On the morning of 30 August 2017, the Myanmar Army and local collaborators surrounded Tula Toli and blocked off all the exit points. The Rakhine chairman of the village assured the Rohingya villagers that the soldiers would not harm them, but that their homes would be torched. He then told the villagers to assemble in one place where they would be safe.[citation needed] By the end of the morning, the huts of Rohingyas in the village were all burnt down. Satellite images provided by Amnesty International show all the Rohingya huts in the village burnt, whilst the Rakhine ones remained intact.[3]

Women and children were separated from the men first and were told to sit next to the river. Women in the river were ordered to get out and sit down along the riverbank. After a while they were all ordered to stand up, then sit down again. Finally they were ordered to stand, and the soldiers shouted at the women to run. As they started running, the soldiers opened fire on them.[2][1] Some of the women attempted to escape the bullets by swimming across the river, only to drown in the river's current.[13]

According to survivors, the men were lined up along the riverbank and shot by automatic rifles, decapitated, burned alive, lynched or blown up by rocket launchers.[2] The soldiers paused for a moment afterwards and shouted for any survivors to stand up, then fired their rifles again to ensure the victims' deaths.[citation needed] The bodies were buried in mass graves alongside the riverbank by the army and burnt to avoid leaving evidence of the massacre.[13]

Aftermath[edit]

After the massacre, a group of around 30 women survived. They alleged that the army told them to wait along the river again, where five women from the group were taken at a time into nearby huts and raped by soldiers. After raping them, the soldiers allegedly robbed them of their jewelry, beat them and set their huts ablaze.[2][13] According to a survivor of the massacre, a group of children managed to escape the massacre and took shelter in a nearby paddy field, but were later caught by the military, placed on the floor and impaled. Their bodies were then thrown in the river.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "There is no Rohingya left in Tulatoli". Dhaka Tribune. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Massacre at Tula Toli: Rohingya recall horror of Myanmar army attack". The Guardian. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Myanmar: satellite imagery confirms Rohingya village of Tula Toli razed". The Guardian. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  4. ^ "My World is Finished (Index number: ASA 16/7288/2017)" (PDF). www.amnesty.org. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  5. ^ a b Kevin Ponniah (5 December 2016). "Who will help Myanmar's Rohingya?". BBC News.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "New wave of destruction sees 1,250 houses destroyed in Myanmar's Rohingya villages". International Business Times. 21 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Rohingya Refugees Seek to Return Home to Myanmar". Voice of America. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  9. ^ Amnesty International (2004). "Myanmar – The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied". Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Head, Jonathan (1 July 2013). "The unending plight of Burma's unwanted Rohingyas". Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Myanmar policemen killed in Rakhine border attack". BBC News. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  13. ^ a b c ""THEY STRUCK US UNTIL WE WERE LIFELESS"". Vice News. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.