HEARTACHE: A Rohingya refugee cries next to her son outside a temporary mosque at Kutupalong refugee camp


ROHINGYA Muslim insurgents said last Sunday (7) they have no option but to fight what they called Myanmar state-sponsored terrorism to defend the Roh­ingya community, and they demanded that the Rohingya be consulted on all decisions affecting their future.  

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched raids on the Myanmar security forces on August 25, which sparked sweeping counter-insurgency op­erations in the Muslim-majority north of Rakhine State that led to widespread vio­lence and arson and an exodus of some 650,000 Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh.  

The United Nations condemned the Myanmar military campaign as ethnic cleansing. Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejected that. But since the August raids, the small insurgent group has launched few if any attacks until last Friday (5), when its fighters ambushed a Myanmar military truck, wounding several mem­bers of the security forces.  

“ARSA has no other option but to com­bat ‘Burmese state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and pro­tecting the Rohingya community,” the group said in a statement signed by lead­er Ata Ullah and posted on Twitter.  

“Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future.”  

The ARSA claimed responsibility for the Friday ambush but gave no details of the clash. A Myanmar government spokesman said the insurgents were try­ing to delay the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh under a plan the two governments have been working on.  

“ARSA aims to frighten those who are considering returning, to show the region doesn’t have peace,” Zaw Htay said.  

Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the refu­gees but more insecurity in Myanmar is likely to raise even more doubts about how quickly that might happen.  

The refugees complain that they have not been consulted on the plan.  

Details of the repatriation plan have yet to be finalised and many questions re­main, not only about security but also about the terms refugees will return under, and whether they will be able to go back to their homes or be resettled in camps.  

Zaw Htay rejected the ARSA call for the Rohingya to be consulted, saying the gov­ernment was already negotiating with leaders of both the Buddhist and Muslim communities. “We will not accept terrorism and fight against them until the end,” the spokesman said, adding no one should offer any support to the group. (Reuters)