Tuesday, May 21st 2024

Military junta compels Muslims to go against AA in Buthidaung fueling ethnic & religious conflicts



The military junta has compelled the Muslim residents to stage protest programs using posters and signs against the Arakan Army (AA) in Buthidaung township of Rakhine State.

 

The local residents informed that the 19 March protest on the streets of Buthidaung was facilitated with security by the junta forces.

 

"The protest involved only Muslim youths and many of them were influenced by the junta. There were around 500 participants. They voiced opposition to the AA," said the villagers.

 

Both the townships namely Buthidaung and Maungdaw support a sizable Muslim-population. Nearly 700,000 Muslims fled to Bangladesh following the atrocities of soldiers during the  junta's clearance operations in 2017.


"Muslims have claimed genocide against them and filed a case at the ICC for war crimes. But they are now  cooperating with the junta. Despite what they claimed, they were forced to join the protest but the photographs reflected their voluntary participation. I don't understand their true intention," said a resident of Buthidaung.


 Narinjara News wrote to U Aung Kyaw Moe, deputy minister for human rights in the National Unity Government (NUG) for his reactions but no response has been received till now.

 

 However, he posted the following lines on his social media page.

 

"The recent anti-ULA/AA protests in Buthidaung township are being supported by the military junta. This junta wants to use the Rohingya as a scapegoat to divert attention from its defeat against the ULA/AA. The recruitment of Rohingya youths as soldiers, their military training, and coercion to participate in the protests aimed at fuelling ethnic conflict only serve the interest of the junta and do not benefit the  Rakhine people, including the Rohingyas. This moment is critical for the Rohingyas and we must uphold our honourable history of standing up for truth and justice."

 

The AA offered to Muslim youths of Rakhine State to seek refuge in AA-controlled areas if they are compelled to serve in the military service. However, it is reported that some Muslims are cooperating with the military junta and even attacking the AA fighters.


On 20 March, the AA uncovered dead bodies of Muslims in the  junta uniforms during the Rathedaung clash indicating their involvement in the fighting.

 

A resident of Buthidaung informed Narinjara News that soldiers and around 60 Muslims in military service entered ward number 4 of  Buthidaung  and looted a former NGO employee’s house at around 11 pm on 18 March. They also demolished some houses, including that of a lawyer, and smashed some car windows.

 

Many local Muslims oppose the collaboration with the junta. But the local residents cautioned on ethnic and religious conflicts to be fuelled by the junta.


Currently, the fighting between the AA fighters and junta forces is going on in Buthidaung Township as the  AA launched a fierce offensive against the 552nd light infantry battalion.

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