Other Massacre Stories that Fall Apart– PART III (and Conclusion) of the series “Fake News & Massacre Marketing in the Rohingya Crisis”

 

By Adam Larson

 

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Editor’s Note: This is the third part of the series in The Indicter, which comprises the following sections:
Part 1. Introduction to Questioning the Massacre Stories
Part 2: Men in Black at Kha Maung Seik: A Massacre BY Rohingya?
Part 3: Other Massacre Stories that Fall Apart (and conclusion)

 

Part 3: Other Massacre Stories that Fall Apart (and conclusion)

Parts 1 and 2 of this article examined two alleged massacres in Myanmar that have been substantiated with bodies. At Inn Din, the government admits its forces and allied locals were to blame for shooting and hacking to death ten Rohingya men. And yet activists have floated contradictory claims over how they were killed and who buried them, apparently fabricated just to conceal that the massacred men were fighters. At Kha Maung Seik, we have copious evidence for a large massacre by ARSA forces against Hindu civilians, with no visible follow-up from “human rights” groups, except to dismiss it as an unfounded government allegation. They seem too busy pushing on the Inn Din admission to prove more regime crimes and demand accountability.

With two genuine episodes of killing pinned one on each side, it’s not so clear the government is the only problem, and it’s not even a draw or a tie. The apparent nature of each slaughter is quite different: 10 apparent fighters, captured after an attack they initiated vs. nearly 100 civilians of all ages and genders seized from their homes. The nature of the response is likewise imbalanced: the government admits the crime and vows to punish the killers, while ARSA and their propagandists apparently make up stories blaming the other side.

But the allegations extend further, and the division of blame for the rest must be considered case-by-case. In all other alleged regime-Rakhine massacres, so far it’s not even clear if there really was one, yet the allegation deserve careful consideration (not blind acceptance).

This includes two other prominent incidents: Maung Nu with about 90 killed (addressed in sections 3.1 and 3.2), and Tula Toli with “several hundred” to 1,800 killed (see 3.3). But as with the stories we’ve considered, the activist allegations break down in several ways. We’ll also consider a prelude massacre attached to Tula Toli (3.4), the sizeable Chut Pyin massacre and a couple other smaller ones, and a last-minute addition, in brief (3.5), and then a review and conclusion ends this long 3-part article.

3.1. Maung Nu: Date and Story Change

Maung Nu is the proper name for a village locally called Monu Para, situated 9km north of Buthidaung. There was apparently little or no notice at the time of a massacre here. It was only first mentioned, prominently, in a September 16 Washington Post article. At that time, “nearly a dozen” (probably 11) witnesses told reporter Annie Gowen of the events there over several days. There was an attack with some killings and homes burnt early on August 25, starting around 8 am, just hours after ARSA had attacked a nearby army base. The details are very unclear, but it seems like this is the closest there is to a massacre date, when one witness said “we were all watching what the military did. They slaughtered them one by one. And the blood flowed in the streets.” [1]

Gowen heard from boat captain Mohamed Zubair, who says he had his boat seized by the army and loaded with bodies on the 26th. The soldiers warned him “you will also be killed,” and then he fainted upon seeing corpses “including those of two 13-year-old boys.” Since he fainted, he can’t be sure, but Zubair “believes the corpses were dumped in the river.” Then, this story runs, there were several days of tension as the army remained nearby, but with no noted killings. On August 27, for example, nothing is noted except a mother reunited with her son, who fled to the woods after being wounded on the 25th. The remaining citizens finally decided to flee on August 30, before there could be another massacre. [2]

Then the story changed. On October 4, Human Rights Watch issued a report based on 14 alleged survivors they interviewed – seemingly different from those who spoke to the Post. These all agree some fighters were killed on the 25th in the clashes, with bodies hauled away on Mr. Zubair’s boat and dumped in the river. Zubair is the only witness known to inform both the Post and HRW, with the same story, but taking a different context in each version. Initially, the bodies on his boat were pretty much the massacre victims, but to HRW, this is just a grisly prelude to a sudden and total slaughter of around 100 people on August 27. Just a handful of survivors ran away then, with no tense days after. HRW did not decide on a specific death toll, but note “some witnesses said a hundred or more” bodies were collected by soldiers, who loaded them “into military trucks and took them away.” [3]

An expansive AP report by Todd Pitman in December came back with 37 survivors (including some and maybe all of HRW’s 14) agreeing on the same story: “At least 82 Rohingya are believed to have been murdered on August 27,” the report states, based on a handwritten list with this many names, “most of them men and boys from Maung Nu and Hpaung Taw Pyin, who family members say were killed.” [4]

If we take the later version as true, then we have to wonder what happened with the first version. It defies logic that “nearly a dozen” witnesses cited for that could forget or fail to mention the August 27 massacre if it truly happened. Even worse would be 37 or more witnesses simply being wrong about those dramatic events. One of these sets must be wrong, and … how does a whole set of people get to be wrong? This could be someone’s plan B tripping publicly over someone’s plan A, when simply telling the truth doesn’t require a plan.

This plan B is quite a dramatic story. As soldiers arrived shooting on the morning of the 27th, villagers crowded into the homes of two prominent businessmen, either on their own for safety, or because they were ordered to, or both. The shooting initially killed one young boy by accident, breaking his head into pieces, before the soldiers burst in. They dragged out the men and older boys, until a senior officer called in 87 of them detained in the courtyard. He got the order called in along his chain of command, and so they shot, hacked, and variously murdered the men all day long. As AP’s Pitman heard it, “soldiers hammered four-inch nails into the temples of three men on the ground with the butts of their rifles. Four other men were decapitated, including a prominent gray-bearded mullah.” The report also notes “about 20 or 25 of the women – mostly attractive and young – were taken away. They were never seen again.” [5]

HRW’s version is similar but milder in tone. The men were killed about the same, but there’s no mention of women abducted. Instead, they heard the women were concentrated in one house, where soldiers robbed them, stripped and groped many, but generally didn’t rape them. They were able to flee after the soldiers left. [6]

It seems the design was to kill all the village’s men, but it was a poor design. Several managed to hide (behind fuel drums, in the rafters, or unspecified), to run away (with or without getting shot), or to play dead (if not intentionally). One miracle survivor is the owner of one of those houses people were herded into. Badruduza Hussein (or Badru Duza to AP), 52, is a wealthy businessman and a former village chief, who saw his brother (the owner of the other massacre house) brutally killed, but had all his own family survive. He says he hid in a bin of rice, but only after seeing everything he needed to from an upstairs window. That was well after everyone else was dragged out and being butchered, back when he wasn’t hidden in the rice yet.  [7]

Mohammadul Hassan, 18, told HRW he was tied up and shot twice in the back along with his brothers. They died and he seemed dead, but had just lost consciousness. When he woke up and stood, soldiers shot him again, in the chest, but he ran away to safety anyway. [8] The same witness gave an improved version to AP’s Pitman in December; after the third shot he passed out again, and didn’t wake up until after the soldiers were gone. [9] He shows the wounds to prove his claims. Now, one is more likely to survive three gunshots to the torso if the shots come from a distance, maybe in the dark, during a gun battle one voluntarily entered. But Mohamedul disavows that option – in two different stories he’s told, one or both of which must be untrue.

Two other men, aged 18 and 32 and both named Mohamed, claim to have suffered bullet grazes – each one to the elbow – as they fled the Maung Nu massacre. [10] From this it’s worth wondering if these are fighters re-using their battle wounds, and if the listed dead are just re-named fighters who were shot worse and died in the same clashes.

(side-note: for some reason this Maung Nu massacre story doesn’t seem to implicate Rakhine Buddhists in particular, like the other cases do. AP, HRW, and WP reports all sound as if soldiers did this without the help of villainous neighbors. The central villain instead is an army officer called “Baju” or “Bajo” who could speak Rohingya and was seen being personally involved at every stage of the killings and coverup. We can be sure at least this is someone the ARSA types do not like.)

3.2) Maung Nu: Entanglement with Massacre of Hindus

Both Human Rights Watch and Pitman’s AP article report that the bodies from the Maung Nu massacre were loaded into trucks and driven off, at least in part. Shafir Rahman, 50 told the Associated Press he “saw soldiers wrapping the corpses into orange and blue tarps and hauling them away with push-carts.”  He said “I don’t know where they took (the bodies),” but they were gone, leaving just blood behind. [11] Others have mentioned seeing bodies dumped nearby; Mustafa, 22, told HRW he saw “a pit with [the bodies of] 10 to 15 children, all under 12 years old. … hacked to death,” and not yet covered with dirt. But he also saw bodies being taken away on carts, and in fact “I recognized one of the carts was mine.” So this point isn’t entirely clear, but others agree on at least some body removal, telling ‘Human Rights Watch’ (HRW)  the soldiers used green tarps, and the cleanup work took hours.  [12]

In other cases we hear the soldiers and Rakhine militiamen just leave the victims where they fell, bury them in nearby “pits,” burn them on-site, or perhaps dump them in the river. But here, it’s said they were loaded up and driven away, which opens possibilities. This could help explain the lack of bodies for the Maung Nu massacre, which might prove permanent. And if it were set up right, these could be claimed as some other batch ARSA and its propagandists would like a different explanation for. Notably, the switch between the first and second version apparently happened after the September 16 Washington Post article (or rather after the associated interviews) and maybe before HRW did its interviews, prior to October 3. It might matter that this is about the time that news broke about the mass graves of Hindus discovered near Kha Maung Seik.

As of September 24 and 25, Rohingya propagandists faced a problem the size of 93 Hindu civilians believed killed, and half of the bodies were found. This problem existed since the 18 kidnapped women and children were freed and started talking about the massacre they saw. That was in the days before Annie Gowen got her scoop for the Washington Post. Nine days after that ran, the stakes were raised with some of the proof located, and less than two weeks after that, HRW released its report that helped the Maung Nu massacre solidify with a set day, when witnesses would claim some 82-90 or more people had been killed there.

The AP report in December helped expand on this, repeating the body removal aspect, and in between – especially in early October – a lot of theories about Kha Maung Seik were aired, as discussed in section 2.4.  By September 27 Kaladan Press heard doubts refugees had about those “Hindu” bodies, doubts they linked to other massacres to the south lacking in such evidence. [13] Activist Maung Zarni likewise did not believe the government’s claims, “not at all,” and noted to the Dakha Tribune “thousands have been killed, where are their bodies, their mass graves?” [14] Around October 2, a supposed ARSA  commander was sure authorities were “posing Muslim bodies as Hindu bodies.” [15]

These people are suggesting some of those bodies were taken north and laundered as Hindus. None suggests a particular incident, but Maung Nu has the right details, like the similar and unusually mobile death toll. The two cases even have complementary date issues. Maung Nu sort-of happened on Aug. 25 and definitely on the 27th, while the first version of the Kha Maung Seik massacre – blaming the army –  has been reported as happening on the morning of Aug. 25, 26, and 27. Both stand out for this dance around each other on the calendar, mostly it seems trying to avoid being on the same day.

Perhaps most acutely, we have a vivid if uncertain visual link. Shafir Rahman says he saw the bodies from Maung Nu wrapped in blue and orange tarps before they were vanished. It pops out that in this government handout photo of the first 28 bodies found near Kha Maung Seik, we see blue and orange tarps laid to the side, most likely used to cover the bodies. Tarps of all colors being common, this could be a coincidence, but a link is possible in a few different ways. Rahman only claimed this after these photos were published, and perhaps for that reason; maybe he or someone informing him saw this clue in the one place and decided to brand it as being seen in the other. That would suggest another massacre tale that evolves with the evidence, and looks for ways like this to “prove” itself.

Recall also how by October 12 refugee “Shofi Ullah” was “sure that the Myanmar government’s dirty trick will get exposed soon.” [16] That was about a week after HRW debuted the Maung Nu August 27 massacre story. Especially after the later AP article, it all seems well set up to expose the game, and yet nothing visible has emerged to clarify what they were all hinting at, or sensing nearby. It might be relevant that the author weighed in at this time with a first-ever article on Myanmar. Just from seeing the December 20 AP piece and a few other articles, it seemed worth floating that the Maung Nu massacre was a lie, concocted to conceal the killings at Kha Maung Seik. This theory was first published, perhaps anywhere, at the blog Monitor on Massacre Marketing on December 22. [17] It’s impossible to say if this or anything else disrupted an existing plan. But either way, that initial hunch seems well borne out upon further study. It remains a matter of speculation, but it is quite possible this whole massacre story was written – and then re-written – for just that twisted purpose.

3.3. Tula Toli: General Evidence Problems

Tula Toli is the local Rohingya name for a village formally known as Min Gyi, where far and away the largest massacre of Rohingya allegedly unfolded on August 30. By reports, perhaps 2,000 innocents were herded together on the beach by the army and armed Rakhine villagers, and most of them killed with no resistance. Total estimates range from “several hundred” to 1,800 civilians killed, including at least 200 women and 300 children. [18]

A “handful” of survivors spoke up saying about 18 or 20 escaped, but then some 70-80 alleged survivors spoke to the media, with various problematic patterns suggested, like one witness (Nour Kabir, 50) seemingly described in other sources as the dead husband of another witness. [19] Another trouble spot is Mohamed Ayas, 16, who told HRW he swam across the river to survive, and “was wounded while running toward the river.” [20] It’s likely this is the same Mohamed Ayes who’s also an ARSA fighter swearing, in section 2.4, they don’t go around in black ski masks massacring non-Muslims. [21] He’d say that’s someone else, or his being a fighter is unrelated to his getting shot in a massacre of innocents.

The details given by these plentiful witnesses are broadly consistent on on how everyone was killed. That’s either from real events they all saw, or from well-known talking points. As they’ve told it to various sources, the men were first butchered in the hundreds in a mix of shooting and slicing. They offered no resistance but to plead and pray, as dozens of their women and children were made to stand in the water nearby. The unprotected women were then dragged off in groups to empty huts with their children. Soldiers killed the children, raped the women, beat or chopped them them to death, and then set the huts on fire. Other children were hacked to death and tossed in the river, activists inform us, and the men’s bodies were burned in sand pits along the beach.

At least ten women located so far, and perhaps 12 or even 14, claim to have each been the sole survivor from their rape hut (at least ten huts total implied, and an 11th by a boy who survived the hut while his mother and everyone else died). [22] Human Rights Watch alone “interviewed nine women and girls” raped by soldiers in “nearby houses.” [23] These were all set on fire, it seems, but the soldiers walked away or stopped paying attention quickly, and none of the 10+ who escaped was shot while fleeing. Each hut had 5-6 or maybe 7 women plus their children, several sources agree. Yet at least two of these women claim to have had one of their children, and not someone else’s, also appear dead  but survive and escape with them. [24]

These 55-70 or more women were culled from a group of “about 30” made to stand in deep water, according to the expert on that who saw it all, “Zahid”. He told the Dakha Tribune only four women survived, and almost like their manager he knew where they were all “in Kutupalong MSF clinic with burns and other injuries.” [25]

However inconsistent or unreal, this rape and burning could only happen after the men sworn to protect them had been killed. Consider this in the light of a 2012 video shared by researcher Rick Heizman, said to show security forces trying to open a road that Muslim Rohingya villagers had blocked with a giant tree branch. [26] Looking at these Bengalis seething with animosity, attacking the soldiers openly on video (but not with guns in this case), it’s hard to imagine how the Tula Toli scenario could have occurred. Let’s say security forces decided to try something so bizarre and brutal five years later, after the emergence of ARSA and its Eid al-Adha offensive would embolden them further. It’s hard to visualize hundreds of such men unable or unwilling to resist as they were massacred before their horrified wives and children, who were sure to be killed next.

It’s interesting that we’re left trying to visualize that, having roughly no visual evidence to work with – when there really should be more. At least four identified scenes (three videos and a photo) have been offered as support, and prove not everyone’s phone was seized, got wet in the swim across, or was just not used in the panic. Some could film, and did, but what they captured fails to show much of what witnesses report. [27]

They say masses of people were killed in plain sight on the beach, herded this way and that, with uniformed soldiers and Buddhist killers plainly visible at the other ends of those weapons. The alleged events ran for hours in broad daylight. “Omar Ali” told CNN “I watched as the government landed in helicopters in Tula Toli and distributed arms … They suddenly had everything; uniforms, knives, guns, everything.” [28] But no one recorded any of this that we can see.

In these four available scenes, which may be compiled from different days, we see the beach is always empty of bodies or massacre clues of any kind. Two scenes show distant smoke from at least a few fires, and one scene only shows bodies in the river, but with no smoke or other problems at Tula Toli. In that footage, at least three dead children are seen washing up on the opposite shore, one at least violently killed. It’s not clear whose children those are, but they appear relatively pale in complexion – possibly Rakhine instead of Rohingya. Besides the scene shown here, a BBC video shows the river babies, with a woman offering Rohingya names for them, saying they were 12 in number and all from one family. But these are only verbal claims. [29]

The alleged witnesses really want to convince us of these stories, and some video evidence would be very helpful. But they provided nothing convincing. That could be because there was no such event to film, or for some other reason.

3.4. Tula Toli Prelude: Who Lived Across the River?

Finally there’s a problem with the August 28 prelude. In reporting on the Tula Toli massacre, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both noted events two days earlier, in the Rohingya village across the river to the east and northeast. Tula Toli survivors say they largely escaped across the river to here, after some had done the same in reverse two days earlier, when the army killed some people and lit up that village. Satellite images are clear this area along the river’s east bank was primarily razed by fire, like Tula Toli was. But as usual, this does little to prove who really burned it. For that, we have Rohingya alleged survivors.

Both titans of Human Rights agree this was a Rohingya town, as witnesses told them. But they disagree on its name. AI heard the village was named “Wet Kyein,” sounding Burmese, with any local name unclear. They didn’t seem to hear about it in nearly the detail HRW did. [30] HRW heard it was called “Dual Toli,” which sounds Rohingya. And it didn’t have both names; they also heard that Wet Kyein was the name of a Rakhine (Buddhist) village, in a different spot across the river, just southwest of Tula Toli (see graphic). Here, houses were not burned, and  HRW used this to prove how the flames only targeted Rohingya areas and spared Rakhine ones, like Wet Kyein. [31]

Several maps available on the Internet support AI’s placement. None yet supports HRW’s, and no other source yet found mentions a “Dual Toli,” aside from another media report apparently from the same witness claim. At one point the open-source mapping site Wikimapia had this southwest spot labeled Wet Kyein, but that was changed to Min Gyi just after AI’s findings were released in September, by a user who also moved Wet Kyein to the spot AI gave. That was shortly before the HRW report came out, but perhaps after some of the research, like citing Wikimapia for the village placement (this works fine when it does).  [32]

In more authoritative maps, Wet Kyein is attached variously to: a village across the river, placed here or further south – a hill (daung) to the east – a whole small area (ward?) containing these – maybe another village to the east. All of this is entirely across from Tula Toli, spanning east of the river bend (see graphic). Useful but imprecise government maps raised some last-minute questions, suggesting the village and whole ward might be even further east, not even touching the river. And they might give the contested village right across the way as “Min Gyi (Ku Lar),” which might render locally as Kula (not Dual), with no “Toli.” If so, both AI and HRW were wrong. But other evidence says this is Wet Kyein is right by the river and also on the highway. Since satellite views trump imprecise maps, AI may be right. [33] Their report also noted “Myanmar authorities have alleged that … on 26 August ARSA destroyed a deserted police outpost in Wet Kyein, across the river from Min Gyi.” [34].

So Wet Kyein’s location isn’t certain, but is central to the following points. Either way, it’s quite clear at this point that HRW was given incorrect information here.

But like HRW, the government says Rakhine lived in Wet Kyein, or at least in the area of town attacked by ARSA militants on August 28. A  statement posted on Facebook by Myanmar’s military leadership reports “At 9.25 am today, extremist Bengali terrorists set 30 houses from Upper Pyuma (Na Ta La) Village and 30 more houses from Wetkyein (Mro) Village on fire.” [35]  NaTaLa may be a Rohingya local name for that village, but Mro is a subgroup of the Rhakine ethnicity. Recall from section 1.1 ARSA’s leader Ata Ullah urged his followers to burn Buddhist homes on this day. [36]

Furthermore, the military update stated “around 11.20 am, Bengalis in Sakapinyin and Kyetkyein villages in Region 4 torched their houses and ran away.” [37] (Kyet Kyein is south of Wet Kyein, on the same east shore, and Sankarpinyin is a bit south of that.) [38] Then At noon, around 50 extremist Bengali terrorists from Kyetkyein Village went to the south of Wetkyein Pagoda” or Buddhist temple. [39] It seems unknown if they did anything there, but they had just burned their own homes before setting out. (note: there was no WhatsApp order for this. If there was a Rohingya plan to burn their own villages, it was communicated in a quieter way, which only makes sense.)

The HRW report noted this government statement, but confused the 50 Bengalis moving at noon with those  burning homes in the morning. Based on that and their seemingly incorrect map tips, the report smugly rebuts Naypyidaw: “subsequent Human Rights Watch satellite analysis showed that Wet Kyein was untouched by arson.” [40] Instead, as they heard it:

“On the morning of August 28, Burmese security forces headed toward the hamlet of Dual Toli, located across the river from Tula Toli. … a village leader asked about 100 young Rohingya men from the village to gather at the entrance of the village to try and persuade the army not to attack them. … as the soldiers approached they immediately began firing on the men, fatally shooting Mohammed Salim… The panicked villagers fled the village after the shooting, crossing the river by boat and by swimming to Tula Toli, which they thought would be safe.” [41]

This and the military statement are clearly two different stories, but both involve morning violence in a town someone calls Wet Kyein. Logically, it’s most likely both refer to the same place, and therefore it is right across the river, and the same place HRW’s witnesses were talking about under a different name. Evidence suggests this is or was a mixed town with Rakhine and Rohingya inhabitants. [42] Some portion was burned on the 28th, perhaps in a raid by ARSA. The fighting group might have been about 60-90 strong, leaning to the high end (that rounds down to 50 “Bengali terrorists” from people who perhaps didn’t spot them all, or rounds up to “about 100” unarmed young locals with sticks.)

While no reports have been noted, other crimes like murder and kidnappings are possible. For all we know the dead children shown on video could have been Mro villagers killed in Wet Kyein and just dropped in the shallows for the video footage. If just 30 homes were torched on the 28th, the town must have been burned more fully later on, especially the Rohingya homes. These were being torched all over, and this is probably no exception, especially if leveling it all would help cover up the Mro parts being burned first. They did go; no one was able to point  to the spared Rakhine part of this village. They got the name wrong, but Human Rights Watch noted that entire town was just as “completely destroyed by arson” as Tula Toli was.

And by the way, by some definitions, Tula Toli was also a mixed town. As Frontier Myanmar reported “Min Gyi had once been a mixed village. While the exact demographics of Min Gyi before the exodus are unclear, one villager in Bangladesh told Frontier that it had been home to about 300 families, of which 60 had been Rakhine and the rest Muslim.” [43] Where exactly these Rakhine lived is somewhat unclear, but perhaps its the southwest part of Min Gyi HRW misnamed.

If this were an ARSA attack on Wet Kyein, then the stories blaming the army would be made up to launder that, and luckily for us they did it in two different ways so the deception is fairly obvious. To AI in October, they used the village’s real name but described it as all-Rohingya and attacked by the army. To HRW in December, they carefully moved that name, and re-named the village burned by the army on the 28th. That could be another case of  someone’s plan B tripping publicly over someone’s plan A, in which both come up suspect. And such tricks would suggest that whatever happened in Wet Kyein and/or in Min Gyi/Tula Toli might be a fairly big deal they want to have spun the right way. We can only hope the death toll they’ve given is grossly exaggerated.

3.5. Chut Pyin And The Rest

Chut Pyin: The list of most prominent massacres againhst Rohingya looks much less impressive after this review.  The three biggest ones are Tula Toli and Maung Nu, with their discussed problems, and Chut Pyin, not yet considered. Further south near Inn  Din, this episode allegedly happened on August 27, with no noted date contradictions. It was perhaps the second largest mass-killing after Tula Toli, with estimates of at least 135 and likely over 200 people killed. This now gets some rushed review for this article.

The first reports were not immediate, but run on August 31 and September1. Fortify Rights, a pro-Rohingya group, reported men and boys were herded into a hut and burned alive, and children as young as six were beheaded in a “killing spree” that  ran five hours, from 2-7 PM. “After the Myanmar authorities and local armed-residents left the village, Rohingya survivors returned to the village to assess damage, at great personal risk, and to count the dead. Survivors estimated the death toll to be more than 200.”   [44]

ABC News (Australia) heard from Chris Lewa, director of something called The Arakan Project, who cited “quite credible” reports of  “about 130 people including women and children” killed  by security forces “together with Rakhine villagers.” A prepared list gave 135 names, as a verified (by them) minimum. [45]

ABC was provided with videos from ARSA, or someone who uses the same kind of subtitles. These are said to show “Chut Pyin village burning” and “mounds of freshly dug earth” (video frame shown here). “This is where the dead bodies from Chut Pyin village were buried.” ABC quotes the unnamed narrator. “They buried 10-20 bodies, putting two to three bodies in each pit.” These were reportedly dug at Ah Htet Nan Yar, south of Chut Pyin, “with more bodies burned  by security forces.” [46] The graves, with sticks jutting out, appear to not be excavated, so it’s not clear how they know how many bodies there are, except by the surface area, or maybe the number of sticks. The remaining 115-190+ fatalities are unexplained – perhaps burned away to nothing, buried elsewhere,  removed, or made up in the first place.

Amnesty International’s report covers this case, hearing from 17 witnesses they found “highly consistent.” It’s another mixed area, with two halves of the village: Rakhine homes in the northeast, Rohingya in the southwest, at least as described. Satellite images show the whole northern part is un-burnt and the southern part is a pile of ash. The witnesses describe a sort of military occupation of the area for a month before the killings, with soldiers looking for “bad people” and imposing harsh rules, threatening death to violators. AI thinks an attack by ARSA on local security forces was “repulsed” on August 26, and as usual the village had nothing to do with that. But still, at 8 or 9 am on August 27, soldiers beat a Rohingya man and stole some livetock in Chut Pyin.  [47]

Then, the report states, “around 2 p.m.” far more soldiers camped nearby, uniformed border guard police, and “local vigilantes” together surrounded the Rohingya area. They violently entered from the north-east and moved south, killing and torching as they went. Somi, 53, said “they came in very suddenly. They didn’t say anything. And they just opened fire and set fire to houses… they opened fire as we ran. I saw it with my own eyes.” Some men claim they hid in one or another of the ponds in the area, but Somi claims he escaped up a hill. He came back down to a horror scene the next morning, with the dead and wounded callously left scattered where they fell. They carried some survivors, including a baby “who was on the ground by his mother’s breast,” but “then the military saw us [from their post nearby] and opened fire. We had to run away. We couldn’t take more [wounded].” All in all, AI heard, “at least scores” were killed.   [48]

A few bullet points help illustrate how Amnesty International adds little or nothing to the naked claims of the Rohingya activists and alleged witnesses:

  • Abdul Karim, 19, was shot in the lower leg and had it amputated due to infection. Like other shot fighting-age men we’ve heard from, he says this happened in the massacre of innocents, not during any clashes he took part in. AI chose to accept these claims, but they could be false anyway.
  • A teenage girl was shot in the leg, and a forensic expert agrees that’s what her wounds suggest. But he couldn’t prove the story that it was soldiers shooting, and can’t be sure what it means that a friendly “neighbor” – likely an adult male Muslim who would deny being an ARSA militant – scooped her up right after someone had shot her feet out from under her.
  • Shara Jahan, 40, says she stayed behind as most ran from their home, “yelling” for their younger children. They never responded and died, and she barely fled, suffering burns over her whole body when the roof caved in. A medical expert agrees on the burns, which are evident anyway, but it’s not actually proven who caused the fire or even if it was inside a house.
  • AI declared “the killings described in this section all violate the right to life,” as enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed they would. But it’s not proven the killings were real, were by the government, nor against non-militant Rohingya. [49]

The supposed confession of two ARSA fighters who were arrested, among several published by researcher and pro-government activist Rick Heizman, casts some doubt on this. Of course it’s possibly coerced and untrue, but they say ARSA attacked Chut Pyin’s police station the night of August 27 as locals were made to flee, and then  burned the village before the last people left around 5 am on the 28th. One also says “our villagers in Nilin Baw and Auk Nan Ya village did the same.” Neither mentions any massacre committed by either side at this time, but perhaps there was one tasked to other people not yet arrested.  [50] That’s not the same date AI reports, citing government sources but with some guesswork involved. This may refer to two separate incidents or could be a contradiction, and requires more study.

Chein Kar Li and Koe Tan Kauk: Three smaller massacres identified by Amnesty International in October were at Inn Din (covered, see 1.2), and at Chein Kar Li and Koe Tan Kauk, two neighbouring villages just south of there. These are considered together in the report, like stunted twins that can’t be apart. They were also featured first, sporting unusually good footage of the villages burning, shot from an overlooking hill. As AI reports it, at least 29 were killed in Chein Kar Li on August 25, and “around 37” in Koe Tan Kauk on Aug. 27 or 28 (meaning AI heard both dates, which may be a problem). Both again are in ethnically-mixed areas where local Buddhists might be victims as easily as perpetrators. Most or all might be fighters. Both cases feature people who say they escaped up a hill after seeing someone either shot dead or left behind in a house that was burned, later came down to verify the death, and then fled. [51] That’s very similar to the Inn  Din story, except for the part about burying the bodies.

In both cases and at Chut Pyin, witnesses reported “the soldiers who attacked their village wore dark green military uniforms with a patch on one arm that looked like a flower and star, which would fit a commonly given description of the Western Command patch. They also identified the BGP by the distinct camouflage blue uniforms they wear.”  [52] This is presented as if they could only know these uniforms if they’d seen them during a massacre, rather than knowing it in general or having it memorized along with a list of other massacre talking points.

Gu Dar Pyin (last-minute addition): Finally, just before publication, another massacre allegation emerged at Gu Dar Pyin, about 16 km south of Buthidaung. [53] A February 1 Associated Press report by Foster Klug relates it as a new story. Mohammad Younus, 25, says he was shot twice in the massacre, not in a battle, and witnessed events from a hiding spot. After the main killing, Klug writes, “Buddhist villagers” helped finish it off, “using knives to cut the throats of the injured, survivors said, and pitching the young and the elderly into fires.” Some think as many as 400 were killed here in the attack on August 27, but they’ve only collected 75 names. [54]

Bodies were left scattered everywhere, but also buried away in mass graves locals noticed only slowly, as rains floated corpses to the surface. Mohammad Karim, 26, finally captured footage on September 9, in three videos shown to the AP “time-stamped between 10:12 a.m. and 10:14 a.m., when he said soldiers chased him away.” Such data can be wrong in a number of ways, and the location most likely can’t be verified, but five “previously unreported” mass graves were now “confirmed” by AP using 24+ witness interviews and “time-stamped cellphone videos.”  [55]

The footage is only shown in non-gory snippets in the AP video report, but five clips are shown by Rohingya activist Ro Nay San Lwin on Facebook. Between them, at least 6 mostly-skeletal bodies and some parts of others are shown. [56] The closest to a “mass grave” they can show includes four bodies that, by clothing and arrangement, were already shown on August 31. Rohingya Blogger shared “gruesome scenes of Rohingya civilians massacred by Myanmar troops.” They heard that was four or five days earlier, on August 26 and 27, at ‘Guta Pyin’ (GuDarPyin) in Buthidaung. “Exact figures of Rohingya civilians massacred by the Myanmar military in the village are yet to be counted.” [57] Here the bodies are fully intact, buried from the waist down mainly, laid so their faces are exposed. All four are adult men in civilian clothes, one of them seemingly beheaded, surrounded by some blue-black fluid with an oily surface. This fluid later dries into a bluish stain on the ground.

This case is unusual in having the soldiers bring acid with them, and use that in a bizarre plan to burn away faces, as Klug’s AP report heard; “blue-green puddles of acid sludge” are noted around the bodies in the video, But it doesn’t seem very corrosive in the August 31 video – skin touching it doesn’t melt. It’s true the bodies were reduced to bone within just nine days, but  it seems parts above the surface were more skeletonized than those fully submerged. So this is most likely predating – wild or feral animals ate their exposed flesh as food, while the “acid sludge” actually preserved much of their remains. Heavy rains then likely washed the scene, clearing the last flesh and some soil.

The acid claim raises red flags. That would mean the victims couldn’t be recognized, as a person or as a member of a race with distinct features. In the early video, the victims’ faces do not appear burned with acid, but instead smeared with mud, especially over the eyes. The eyes are the best way to identify if someone is Rakhine or Rohingya/Bengali. From this double suggestion of hidden faces, it seems worth wondering if these are laundered victims of an ARSA massacre.

But on the other hand, one of those seen on August 31 had a face hidden under a black mask like ARSA fighters wear. There can be no doubt of this; the distinct eye and mouth holes are visible in the silky material,  He was already mentioned in section 2.2 as an apparent militant. The mask doesn’t prove this, but it’s consistent. In the later footage, his mask has been removed (something small and black tossed aside nearby) and his shirt has been pulled up. Since then, his chest and face were chewed down to bone, and half of of his shattered head was dragged away.

And it seems we may have another Inn Din situation. A military Information Committee statement on Facebook, February 2, refers to the AP report and a government investigation. Using automatic translation, this seems to mention 19 radical ARSA terrorists killed and “buried properly.” There’s mention of “5/2017, Section 50 (i) in the fight against terrorism” and that “There is no human rights violations by the government” [58] A Burmese speaker on Twitter summarizes “on Aug 28, 500 #Militants #ARSA attacked security forces. Security retaliated, killed 19 attackers, buried them in graves in Gu Dar Pyin” [59] It’s not clear if killed means executed or killed in action, but it seems they claim the latter. As The Irrawaddy reported it:

“According to the government’s statement, 19 ARSA militants were killed in fighting after about 500 militants attacked security officials with firearms, knives, slingshots, and darts. Officials buried the bodies of the dead militants systematically and opened a criminal case under counter-terrorism Article 50 (i) at Nyaung Chaung police station.

The statement did not elaborate on whether security forces buried the ARSA casualties in the Gutar Pyin graveyard or in other locations.” [60]

So it’s not clear if the improperly buried bodies we see on these videos are the same ones they refer to. But that mask suggests they were fighters, and they seem executed, with one even beheaded. If this is another Inn Din, it seems to be uglier yet.  Activists and witnesses will cry foul, swearing at least 75 and maybe 400 civilians were killed, not just 19 men. But only six or so bodies are proven, and the government already gives 19 slots (which may or may not allow for these). For the moment, they aren’t expanding on the 10 they admit were illegally killed at Inn Din. But this might change eventually to 29 killed Rohingyas, all fighters, admitted to in their alleged ethnic cleansing campaign.

As we await more information that’s sure to be challenged, the true story of the bodies at Gu Dar Pyin remains unclear and deserves further analysis. For one thing, credible and neutral professionals should look at the full video record and render a meaningful opinion on that aspect.

Concluding Thoughts on Doubt, “Fake News,” and Justice

Back in 2015, BBC Trending acknowledged several photographs used to show the plight of the Rohingya were fakes, recycled from various disasters around the world. They closed by warning against letting this distract from, as activist Jamil Hanan put it, the “tragic scenes of the Rohingya that are genuine.” Luckily these are “the most tragic images” anyway, so Hanan assured us “there is simply no need for anyone to fabricate anything,” [61] Yet someone else thought the most tragic photo was the one of Buddhist monks ripping up Rohingya babies like an earthquake in China would do, and felt such a need to show it they couldn’t wait for a real photo of it.

Verbal claims have painted very similar pictures time and again, before and since then. These can’t be proven to be made-up or recycled with a simple reverse image search, and as it happens, we’re continually encouraged to rely on them, with roughly the same acceptance we would afford to genuine visual proof.

But the encouragement isn’t quite total. Another useful bit of limited hangout emerges now at the New York Times: “The Rohingya Suffer Real Horrors. So Why Are Some of Their Stories Untrue?” Reporter Hannah Beech makes a laudable effort, considering, at questioning some of the claims lodged by refugees that, “in some cases, are too compelling, like a perfect storm of suffering.” Indeed, this is one of the clues to watch for. In some cases, Beech followed that skepticism, instead of filtering it out like most would, and found it was warranted. A 9-year-old boy presented to her told and drew how soldiers killed his parents, as well as his grandparents. He then admitted his grandparent died of natural causes, and some probing suggested Beech was either misled about his parents’ killings or the town it happened in. “Obviously, something bad had happened to him,” she notes, “but to this day, no one has figured out his real story.” [62]

Another story may be figured out, but it was awkward. Four refugee sisters aged 2-12 gave dramatic accounts full of “quotes that pull at heartstrings. Little of it was true.” They claimed their father was in prison and their mother killed in the recent burning of their village, so they were now under the care of an uncle, Soyud Hossain. But it turns out Soyud was their father, an Islamist with three wives. Two were in the Bangladesh camps, and he secretly married a 12-year-old in Myanmar, who mothered these 4 girls. (He calls that nothing to his father’s 6 wives and 42 children.) Somehow, the girls found their dad here, but their mother is not present, perhaps killed like they say. [63]

Even this story isn’t the certain truth, but Beech spoke with “Sajida,” Soyud’s in-camp wife (he had the girls say he was in “prison”). After learning about wife #3 and the girls, Sajida (probably not her real name) said “My husband is a bad man … I am tired of all his lies.” The next time Beech spoke with Mr. Hossain, he said “I beat her when you left,” and promised to do it again. Mr. Hossain’s sister-in-law Beech spoke to was also reportedly battered by her husband, much to the journalists’ regret. [64]

So why are some stories untrue? Beech speculated various causes; children have a hard time separating things they’ve heard from things they experienced. Deceptive polygamists might cover their tracks. But it could be because the whole thing is untrue, a jumbled complex of lies spun by brutal and deceptive Islamists, in order to fool foreign infidels into supporting their jihad. She doesn’t think so, accepting the less-examined bulk as “genuine horrors – murder, rape and mass burning of villages – that have been inflicted upon the Rohingya by Myanmar’s security forces.”  [65] (She doesn’t mention it here, but they give equal credit to genocidal Buddhist vigilantes working on the lines of the monk U Wirathu, the “Burmese Bin Laden” as Beech has claimed he calls himself.) [66] She thinks a few fake stories detract from the true picture, but upon analysis, it seems likely a whole bunch of fake stories are in just what the supposed truth is made of.

Even as we might acknowledge serious doubts, and even with that unusual look behind the scenes, it will be hard for many to question these refugee camp witnesses. The public has been trained to accept them as the only source of reliable information. There are very many of them agreeing on the same basic picture. And some bear scars no one would volunteer for.

A good example is Mumtaz Begum, 30* who says she survived a Tula Toli massacre rape hut along with her daughter (Razia, 7) and no one else, afer both played dead. That might sound unlikely, considering she has no known wounds to have seemingly died from before the fire. But afterwards, she was burned all down the right side, and Razia suffered serious slices to the scalp, apparently from being hit at least twice in the head with a sword or bladed weapon. Mumtaz (burns but no wounds) and Razia (wounds but no burns) were featured in a news story along with other women and children showing such marks, mostly Tula Toli survivors telling the same story. [67] These two are shown widely, including in a BBC News night video (frames shown). [68]

* Begum is apparently not a family name (way too common, and attached to no males). It’s a term applied to certain women who are nobles, or have earned resect from age or being seriously wounded. [69] Over half the women cited as massacre survivors in Myanmar are called Begum, so apparently giving no family name. The oldest Hossain girl Hannah Beech heard from was called Januka Begum, aged 12. [70] It looks like a family name but is It’s unclear why others are not called Begum, but perhaps just because they gave their family name. Begum and a family name are never seen together here.

We know the Tula Toli massacre story is long on verbal claims and lacking in other evidence. The overabundance of rape hut survivors in particular was noted (see section 3.3). Besides being one of these ten or more dubious witnesses, Mumtaz also has a shifting account. Usually she was made to stand in the water after her husband was killed, then taken to the hut with her children. But she also gives a version to CNN where she was somehow “discarded and left for dead … on top of a mound of charred, entangled bodies,” before she woke up and then “was dragged to a village house and raped by soldiers.” By that she seemed dead not once but twice, again with no wounds shown. [71]

So there’s reason to suspect her stories are false, but then how did she get burned and Razia hacked? The only other party to consider is ARSA. But how could Mumtaz sit there and spout Rohingya propaganda to help them out if they were the ones who did it? Wouldn’t she be mad at them?

Here we should recall the eight Hindu women who once told the same kind of story blaming the army and Rakhine Buddhists. As they now say, that’s because they and their children had their lives threatened by the captors, who had already murdered the rest of their families. If these had shown any such wounds to support their claims (they didn’t) we would have to acknowledge it was probably done by their captors, sharpening the threats to say the right thing. In that light, people like Mumtaz and Razia should really be checked on to find out if they’re camping with the Muslims of their own free will.

Most of those presented to speak are fairly dark-skinned and speak Rohingya, not the lighter, more Asiatic-looking and Burmese-speaking Rakhines, the primary enemies of the ARSA militants. If these people are captured enemies, it’s another group closer to home – either Hindu like those eight women, or Muslims, but ones seen as supporting the government or just in the way of the big Arakan project. It would be, technically, Rohingya-on-Rohingya violence, kidnapping, and coercion. Mumtaz and others wear specific wrist bangles and clothing, for example, that might contain overlooked clues a regional expert could spot.

Most others we’ve heard from will surely be there by choice; they’ll all be doing it at gunpoint on some level, but if the crisis is fake, they’ll be the ones faking it. If any of these has a scalp wound to show, they might even volunteer for that. A blade just pressed in non-violently might cause bleeding and a scar, but little trauma. We’ve seen several of the many cases of fighting age men (and older boys) with bullet wounds, who claim they survived these massacres. It’s likely these are ARSA fighters taken off the field and now attacking their religious enemies with allegations instead. Many others, especially older men, said they hid behind a tree or something, saw everything and lived unharmed to tell us about it. Such a guy might also be a religious leader or financier in the ARSA network (Badruduza Hussein is a good example to wonder about – see 3.1). Older women who list the dead and weep might be the wives and sisters of those older men. Others like Shara might have been accidentally trapped inside a home that ARSA set on fire, but the victim was saved and helped, and maybe offered a small cash settlement – if they also agreed to some storytelling.

As Hannah Beech noted “a fresh bullet wound in a child’s body is proof that something terrible happened.” [72] Men with guns and propaganda needs realize this.

This is all speculative, but why not speculate? Between voluntary and coerced lies, it’s possible that close to zero truth has emerged from all these people. The best way to consider eyewitness evidence is to neither accept nor dismiss it blindly, but to consider it critically, acknowledging its limitations and the dangerous potential for getting things wrong – or even setting the story upside down. Perhaps the analysis in this article is too critical, but at the best, there’s little reason to be so sure about the refugee camp narrative. This is especially so now that we can see important parts of it must be untrue, while the rest is just unproven.

For the most part, the claims lodged can’t be verified or proven wrong. Sometimes that’s because we don’t hear enough “harrowing accounts” and “testimony” to compare them and determine the patterns of likely deception. This can already be done with Inn Din, Maung Nu, Tula Toli, Wet Kyein, and the first version of Kha Maung Seik, at least. In a case like Chut Pyin, perhaps a false story with no obvious seams was actually floated; not every lie can be proven as such. The fact that  this many weak spots can be found with the opposition’s leading massacre claims, and so easily,  suggests a serious problem with their whole narrative. This in turn casts at least a starting doubt on every story, no matter how consistently it’s been presented.

We’ve seen altered dates, altered locales, dubious claims of extreme government massacres and implausible government cover-ups lacking in credible evidence, fighters laundered as innocent Muslims, victims of the Muslims laundered as victims of the Buddhists … The efforts at writing the specific stories to flesh out their “repression of innocent Muslims” narrative are almost comical.

But it’s clearly a black sort of humor, with a dark side in which women and children have been slaughtered, and other horrible things have happened. How many of the thousands reported really died remains unclear, as well as who they really were and how they would have died. But to some degree at least, grave violations of Human Rights have occurred.

Passions are and should be high, but they also should be restrained. And so we see reminders to avoid “fake news that fuels hate.” Annie Gowen writes “for Buddhists in Myanmar, even a quick scroll through Facebook’s news feed provides fuel for hatred and nationalistic fervor,” referring to claims that Buddhists are not killing Rohingya, that it’s in fact the opposite – victim-blaming, Gowen would say. [73] She doesn’t seem concerned what effect the regular news like she writes might have on Muslim extremists. True or not, these tales like Tula Toli are likely to rile people up and cause problems like revenge killings of innocent Buddhists. Any story of a horrible crime becoming known is liable to do this, true or flase. It’s a real problem.

Gowen and those of like mind might caution against unjust acts of revenge, and emphasize the role of truth; the claims against Rohingya are fake, whereas those lodged by them are real.

Gowen was able to cite one example of what seems to be Hindu refugees helping stage a single photograph presented as a Rohingya woman burning a village. But that photo was shown to journalists on a government-arranged field visit, who had just met with the same distinct woman wearing the same clothes, and were able to go back and get instant confirmation. That fakery is so obvious it seems we might be missing something, and it’s not entirely clear what’s really shown in the photo (this might requires more study). [74] But this doesn’t seem to be representative, and no one can cite a second example this clear.

The other side has the myriad deceptions explained in this article besides, for example, UK-based “scholar” Maung Zarni recycling a photo of soldiers putting out a fire in 2016 as them setting one in 2017. [75].


Rohingya claims to accept include … maybe not that one, but they do include the story of the Maung Nu Massacre on August 25 that was handed to the foe of “fake news” Annie Gowen. That incident was later revised to be more dramatic and memorable, and on the 27th, which was also reported as true (see section 3.1). They can’t all decide on the date of an incident or even remember it, yet all their different versions are accepted as real news, different but parallel truths worth publishing in the interests of justice. They don’t even notice as these stories collide with and run over each other, leaving no survivors.

The unusual but thorough analysis reflected in this article strongly suggests all the major events reported are fictional, or even inverted versions of true crimes. This would be consistent with a fake crisis scenario, as considered in section 1.1.  The ARSA network mobilizes everyone possible to fight, run, and burn, so they can blame it on the government and demand a new Arakan state be built outside their authority. Dead bodies help too, and there were some people around they could stand to see disappear. They would be banking in the blood of their own victims as well as that of their fallen comrades, in an epic and systematic case of “playing politics with the dead” as HRW’s Ganguly put it, so far out of this context.

Whoever committed the clear and hideous killings and kidnappings at Kha Maung Seik, for example, are a menace that needs to be identified and neutralized. That just might be the deceptive jihadists Myanmar’s authorities claim to be up against. It may be no one but this cancerous element – and its often hard-to-define support network – that the state is trying to “clear” their territory of. Some governments are allowed to do things like this with no hassles, if the problem exists there in the first place. Perhaps in Myanmar, as with Syria and others before, every move to solve the Islamist problem iswill be demonized, as it’s allowed to fester there under a strangely uniform ignorance regime. Things like Daesh (the Islamic State movement) emerge from this.

The world’s “Human Rights” defenders and reporters of “news” seem to do the heavy lifting of making the refugee camp narrative seem like reality after all. Governments are one thing, but how could so many credible and independent voices all agree unless it was real? That stands as a good question we’re not going to answer right here; it shouldn’t stand in the way of seeing that they are wrong, if that’s really how it is.

Whatever the reasons, this is a sorry state of affairs that deserves more attention. No crisis, not even the Rohingya one, can be truly and justly solved without a diagnosis based solidly in reality. Those who work to avoid and limit the debate or shut down alternate views must be challenged on this or worked around, so the truth can perhaps be grasped clearly enough. Most of the specific points raised in this article have been posed in challenges to those responsible for reporting the false claims, but none has answered yet. [76] There will be more to come after this article is available to point to, and so it now concludes.

References

1, 2. ‘Blood flowed in the streets’: Refugees from one Rohingya hamlet recount days of horror By Annie Gowen, Washington Post, September 16, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/blood-flowed-in-the-streets-refugees-from-one-rohingya-village-recount-days-of-horror/2017/09/15/34059ecc-9735-11e7-af6a-6555caaeb8dc_story.html

  1. https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/03/burma-military-massacres-dozens-rohingya-village

4, 5. https://www.voanews.com/a/rohingya-survivors-myanmar-amy-slaughtered-men-children/4175020.html

  1. see 3
  2. ACLOS: first entry: Badrudduza Hussein, 52 http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Maung_Nu_Massacre#Alleged_Witnesses
  3. see 3
  4. see 4
  5. ACLOS: Mohammad Nasir, 32 and Mohamed Yaha, 18 http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Maung_Nu_Massacre#Alleged_Witnesses
  6. see 4
  7. see 3
  8. “Refugees question Burmese government’s report of mass Hindu graves.” Kaladan News, 27 September 2017 http://www.kaladanpress.org/index.php/news/413-news-2017/september-2017/5149-refugees-question-burmese-government’s-report-of-mass-hindu-graves.html
  9. “India, Myanmar, and the convenient discovery of Hindu mass graves” By Fazlur Rahman Raju. Dhaka Tribune. Published at 01:50 PM October 01, 2017 http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/10/01/india-myanmar-convenient-hindu-graves/
  10. “Who really attacked the Rohingya Hindus in Myanmar’s Rakhine state? The answer is shrouded in fog of claims and counter-claims.” By Mahadi Al Hasnat. Scroll.in. October 2, 2017. 07:30 pm https://scroll.in/article/852527/who-really-attacked-the-rohingya-hindus-in-myanmars-rakhine-state
  11. “Mystery surrounds deaths of Hindu villagers in Myanmar mass graves: Government accused of ‘dirty tricks’ as Hindus who fled to Bangladesh say army was behind massacre, only to blame Rohingya militants once back in Myanmar” By Shaikh Azizur Rahman, The Guardian. October 12, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/oct/12/myanmar-mass-graves-mystery-surrounds-deaths-of-hindu-villagers-dirty-tricks-rohingya
  12. 15. Is the Maung Nu Massacre a Laundered Islamist Atrocity? (rough, incomplete) http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/12/is-maung-nu-massacre-recycled-islamist.html
  13. General reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tula_Toli_massacrehttp://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Tula_Toli_Massacrehttp://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/01/tula-toli-massacre-masterlist.html
  14. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/01/tula-toli-massacre-alleged-witnesses.html – HRW heard Khotija, 42: “lost her entire family in the massacre. Her elderly father, Abu Shama, and husband, Nur Kobir, 50, died with the men on the beach.” BBC spoke to Noor Kawbir, who appears possibly 50.
  15. “Massacre by the River Burmese Army Crimes against Humanity in Tula Toli.” Human Rights Watch, December 19, 2017 https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/12/19/massacre-river/burmese-army-crimes-against-humanity-tula-toli
  16. https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/957485023526973442
  17. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/01/tula-toli-massacre-alleged-witnesses.html see near bottom “Add Jan. 4: Did Half the rape Hut Women survive?”
  18. see 20
  19. Mumtaz Begum and Dildar Begum, each with a surviving daughter around 7 or 8 – see also 22.
  20. “Zahid” see Dhaka Tribune http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2017/09/09/no-rohingya-left-tulatoli/
  21. https://twitter.com/rick135b7/status/951130513455988736
  22. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/01/tula-toli-massacre-visual-record.html
  23. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/18/asia/ethnic-cleansing-rakhine-rohingya/index.html
  24. BBC video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRp0o0fzB2I
  25. ““MY WORLD IS FINISHED”: ROHINGYA TARGETED IN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN MYANMAR.” Amnesty International. 18 October 2017, Index number: ASA 16/7288/2017 https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa16/7288/2017/en/ pp. 21-22
  26. see 20
  27. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/12/tula-toli-massacre-where-is-wet-kyein.html
  28. https://twitter.com/PlanBurma/status/958159763048603648 – MIMU map has 2 Wet Kyein villages marked, both further east, and gives the contested village as Min Gyi (Ku Lar), as opposed to Min Gyi (Tu Lar Tu Li) across the river. http://themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Tsp_Map_VL_Maungdaw_-_Rakhine_MIMU154v04_03May2016_A1.pdf – however it may be more like AI placed it https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/958332150926819328
  29. see 30
  30. Post by Defense Chief, Aug. 28, 7:01 PM (California time) https://www.facebook.com/Cincds/posts/1439927706128090 (partial): “At 9.25 am today, extremist Bengali terrorists set 30 houses from Upper Pyuma (Na Ta La) Village and 30 more houses from Wetkyein (Mro) Village on fire. … Around 11.20 am, Bengalis in Sakapinyin and Kyetkyein villages in Region 4 torched their houses and ran away. …At noon, around 50 extremist Bengali terrorists from Kyetkyein Village went to the south of Wetkyein Pagoda”
  31. “Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Enters a Dangerous New Phase” International Crisis Group. Report #292 / Asia 7 December 2017 https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/292-myanmars-rohingya-crisis-enters-dangerous-new-phase

37, see 20

  1. http://themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Tsp_Map_VL_Maungdaw_-_Rakhine_MIMU154v04_03May2016_A1.pdf
  2. see 20

40, 41. see 20

  1. see 32
  2. https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/the-destruction-of-tula-toli
  3. http://www.fortifyrights.org/publication-20170901.html

45, 46. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-01/reports-of-women-and-children-among-dead-in-myanmar-massacre/8862164

47, 48, 49.  ““MY WORLD IS FINISHED”: ROHINGYA TARGETED IN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN MYANMAR.” Amnesty International. 18 October 2017, Index number: ASA 16/7288/2017  https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa16/7288/2017/en/  pp. 10-13

  1. https://twitter.com/rick135b7/status/945215024053682176https://twitter.com/rick135b7/status/945213210650583040

51, 52. ““MY WORLD IS FINISHED”: ROHINGYA TARGETED IN CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN MYANMAR.” Amnesty International. 18 October 2017, Index number: ASA 16/7288/2017  https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa16/7288/2017/en/ pp. 18-19

  1. mapping explained here: https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/959050979030155264

54, 55. “AP Exclusive: AP confirms 5 unreported Myanmar mass graves” By Foster Klug, Associated Press, BALUKHALI REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh – Feb 1, 2018, 5:24 AM ET http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/ap-confirms-previously-unreported-myanmar-mass-graves-52755289 – Version with video: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/AP-confirms-5-previously-unreported-Myanmar-mass-12541732.php

  1. https://www.facebook.com/nslwin/posts/2036170453066187
  2. “Updates: Into Seventh Day of Military Offensives on Rohingya Population in Northern Arakan’ RB News, August 31, 2017. http://www.rohingyablogger.com/2017/08/updates-into-seventh-day-of-military.html video alone on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mdskar/status/903138244044374016
  3. Information Committee added 4 new photos. February 2 at 5:17am · https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=869272283245879&id=639456206227489
  4. https://twitter.com/MayWongCNA/status/959431148244934656
  5. No Mass Graves Found During Official Inspection of Gutar Pyin, Government Says” By Moe Myint, The Irrawaddy, 3 February 2018. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/no-mass-graves-found-official-inspection-gutar-pyin-government-says.html
  6. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-32979147

62, 63, 64, 65. “The Rohingya Suffer Real Horrors. So Why Are Some of Their Stories Untrue?” By Hannah Beech, New York Times, FEB. 1, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/world/asia/rohingya-myanmar-camps.html

  1. See criticism by Rick Heizman https://twitter.com/rick135b7
  2. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rohingya-rape-survivors-harrowing-stories-abuse-hands-myanmar-military-1650450

68.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRp0o0fzB2I

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begum
  2. see 61
  3. CNN www.cnn.com/2017/11/12/asia/myanmar-rohingya-tula-toli-massacre-testimony/index.html
  4. see 61
  5. https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7987097-fake-news-on-facebook-fans-the-flames-of-hate-against-the-rohingya-in-myanmar/
  6. https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/09/11/burmese-attempt-to-show-rohingya-torched-their-own-homes-unveiled-as-fake-news.html
  7. https://twitter.com/sattlwinmoe/status/914797026503565312
  8. http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-challenge-to-media-on-myanmar-fake.html

 

 

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The author

Adam Larson is an independent investigator in Spokane, Washington, United States. He studied history at Eastern Washington University. He has since 2011, on a volunteer basis, studied events in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine following Western-backed regime-change operations, often under the screen name Caustic Logic. Using open sources, with an emphasis on video analysis, Mr. Larson and research associates have often deconstructed or disproved alleged “regime” crimes from shooting protesters to sectarian massacres. He’s the co-founder of Citizen’s Investigation into War crimes in Libya (and Syria, Ukraine, and beyond – CIWCL-SUB – website), a core member of the wiki-format research site A Closer Look On Syria, and runs the site Monitor on Massacre Marketing. He can be contacted at adam@ciwclibya.org/