Rohingya Christian Refugees from Myanmar Allegedly Attacked by Militants

01/29/2020 Bangladesh (International Christian Concern) – Twelve Christian Rohingya refugees from Myanmar claim that they were attacked by Rohingya militants “due to their faith.” They are undergoing treatment for injuries in southeastern Bangladesh, one of the alleged victims and a Christian group said Monday.

Radio Free Asia reports that Bangladeshi police confirmed the violence but denied the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)’s involvement. Four Christians and one Muslim were wounded in an “ordinary law-and-order incident,” police said.

The clash took place in a community of Christian families living in Kutupalong refugee camp, dubbed the world’s largest after the latest influx of the mainly Muslim Rohingya who fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh in 2017.

“The ARSA early Monday attacked us, the Christians. They looted our houses, and beat up many Christian members. At least 12 Christians have been undergoing treatment at different hospitals and clinics,” a Christian named Saiful from the camp told BenarNews by phone.

Saiful said most of his community converted to Christianity in Myanmar and that he and his family crossed into Bangladesh from Baulibazar in Myanmar’s Maungdaw district in 2007.

“We came under attack due to our faith,” he said. “On May 10, 11, and 13 last year, this same group of terrorists attacked us. They want us to leave this camp. They have been attacking us systematically,” he added.

Local police denied Saiful’s account and claimed that Saiful had initiated the attack against a Rohingya Muslim named Shukkur, leading Shukkur’s family to retaliate against Saiful and his family. The Rohingya leader of Saiful’s block where the attack occurred confirmed the police account.

Meanwhile, a group called the Rohingya Christian Assembly from India shared with BenarNews in an email that “Last night … the ARSA attacked the whole Christian community in Kutupalong Camp [located at] 2E Block B1. Approximately 25 Christian families are displaced. It is winter and very cold, the victims have many minor children with them.”

It said that a mob of “hundreds in many groups” entered every Christian home at night and destroyed the houses using machetes. “Twelve of the Rohingya Christians were severely beaten by ARSA, they are injured and now they are admitted to hospital,” said the email.

A local police inspector, Mobarak Hossain, said that authorities had yet to capture any of the attackers. The Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist Christian Unity Council, an organization that advocates for religious minorities in the South Asian country, said it would investigate the incident.

“We have come to know that ARSA repeatedly intimidated the Hindu Rohingya refugees. So, it’s logical to assume that ARSA can attack Christians,” said Rana Dasgupta, the association’s secretary-general.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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