US seeks probe on Hindus massacred in Myanmar; Muslim groups slam Amnesty

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Deeply concerned over the Amnesty International report on the alleged killing of Hindu villagers by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the US on Friday said there was an urgent need for a credible and independent investigation into the human rights violations in Myanmar's restive Rakhine province.

"We are deeply concerned by Amnesty's report on the killing of Hindu villagers by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Accountability for all those responsible for human rights abuses and violations in northern Rakhine state remains critical," a US State Department spokesperson told PTI.

He said the report further highlights the urgent need for a credible and independent investigation in Rakhine state to further determine all facts on the ground to fix accountability and provide justice to victims.

"The United States continues to support such an investigation," the spokesperson said.

In its report early this week, the Amnesty International said a Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords was responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017.

"At around 8 am on 25 August 2017, ARSA attacked the Hindu community in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, in a cluster of villages known as Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw Township. At the time of the attack, the Hindu villagers lived in close proximity to Rohingya villagers, who are predominantly Muslim. Rakhine villagers, who are predominantly Buddhist, also lived in the same area," Amnesty said in its latest report.

In a statement Burma Task Force, a coalition of 19 US and Canadian Muslim organisations, slammed the Amnesty International for "such a report". "It is a major public relations bonanza for the genocidal Burmese regime. It puts 60,000 Rohingyas in India even at more risk than they already are," it said.

"The Amnesty International report presents, as fact, evidence and conclusions that are both seriously questionable, and by doing so it aids the propaganda efforts of a regime whose every action suggests it is bent on carrying out genocide," the task force said.

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorisation Act 2019, which addresses the issue of alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

"This provision imposes new sanctions on Burmese military officials and bars their forces from US joint drills," Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

Over the past year, the Burmese military has escalated its decades-long campaign against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority. More than 7,00,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee and thousands have been slaughtered. Entire villages have been burned and bulldozed, he said.

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