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Inside the Rakhine State insurgency

  • Published at 02:26 am January 12th, 2017
  • Last updated at 04:22 pm February 15th, 2018
Inside the Rakhine State insurgency
Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY) was formed to revolt against the Myanmar government and establish the rights of Rohingyas as citizens of the country, claimed a top leader of the insurgent group. And, according to his claim, they had full support of the locals of northern Rakhine, home to Rohingya Muslims. HaY’s name popped up shortly after a series of attacks on several outposts of Myanmar Border Guard Police near Bangladesh border on October 9, 2016, in which nine policemen were killed. The leader, who claims to be the second-in-command of self-proclaimed HaY chief Ata Ullah, claimed that this premeditated attack was aimed at acquiring arms and ammunition for the members who had been trained in guerrilla war tactics. “The senior leaders, including Ata Ullah, started speaking with villagers [in Rohingya-dominated areas] in Rakhine four months before the attack and received astonishing response,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “We had the support of all – from school-going children to the elderly,” he claimed. A number of the members are the frustrated students of madrasas and employees of mosques which were shut down by the Myanmar government following the 2012 riot. They were never reopened. The second-in-command said: “We attacked Dumci police station around midnight; it was the most successful attack of the night.” In their second attempt, they attacked Hawar Bill police outpost around 2am. The third one was around 4am on Naffura police outpost. “That one was the least successful.” The second-in-command claimed that they had managed to rob more than 90 firearms that night. With the newly “acquired” weapons, HaY found themselves on a stronger ground to face the Myanmar authorities. But what they had not considered was the possibility of an aerial attack. “They [Myanmar Army] brought helicopters to shoot at us,” said the second-in-command. “They knew they would not be able to overcome us on the ground.”
Also read- ‘We will fight until the last drop of blood’ 
Unable to defend themselves, the insurgents retreated. By then the army had also launched its raid in the Rohingya villages that led to mass murders and gang rapes of the Rohingyas, as told by those who fled to Bangladesh. “People saw the army killing their family members right in front of them. They saw their loved ones being raped by the army. Their will to fight crumbled and they fled Arakan [Rakhine].” The fighters witnessed as many as 250 Rohingya houses being burnt to the ground, he claimed. The army attack turned local Rohingyas against HaY, whom they started to blame for the crackdown. In the meantime, fighters of the group scattered around to hide, waiting for instructions from the high command. But the instructions never came. Many HaY members lost their faith in the group’s goal to establish their rights. Rohingya community also started despising the insurgents. “The army attack cost us the support of Rohingyas,” said the second-in-command. Having lost followers, territory and ammunition, the HaY leaders have yet to decide on the next course of action. “We do not have any plans yet to further our movement. The situation in Rakhine is too risky for us, and some of our fighters were injured during the crackdown,” said the second-in-command. Their leader, Ata Ullah, is currently hiding to escape military prosecution. When this correspondent asked to meet him, the second-in-command rejected the request instantaneously. “It is absolutely impossible. Three of our members were recently abducted. Since then, Ata Ullah has gone deep in hiding.” When asked where they were keeping their firearms, he said most of them were buried underground. The leaders have no idea how to proceed with their movement, but they are still determined to finish what they started. “We will fight until the end. This is a revolution against the oppression of Rohingyas by the Myanmar government,” said the second-in-command.