April 22, 2013

II. Coordinated Attacks and Abuses Against Muslims in Arakan State: October 2012

My mother was stabbed with a knife on her head and on her neck. She died from bleeding too much.
—Rohingya man, 25, describing attack in Yan Thei village, Mrauk-U Township, in October 2012
Fifteen policemen were on guard behind my house. We thought that because of all the guards there would not be violence or fires. But at 7:30 p.m. the Arakanese came and set fire to a house next to mine. They had bottles of petrol. In that group there were more than 500 Arakanese, at least. The police did nothing. They didn’t fire a gun – they did nothing for us.[104]
—Kaman Muslim man, 49, from Kyauk Pyu, Arakan State, November 2012

After months of rising tensions and visible planning by monks, political party members and Arakanese communities, on October 22, 2012, the predictable happened: mobs of thousands of Arakanese with weapons descended on Muslim communities in nine townships throughout the state. Carrying machetes, swords, spears, homemade guns, Molotov cocktails, and other weapons, sizable groups of Arakanese men simultaneously descended on Muslim villages in several townships in a coordinated fashion. In some areas they arrived by foot, in others by a makeshift armada of small boats, braced to attack.

In many areas, the groups targeted the local mosque first, and then nearby homes, easily flammable structures of bamboo and wood. The burning of entire villages to the ground was a signature tactic of these attacks. Plumes of smoke quickly dotted the sky. The assailants killed an unknown number of Muslim men, women, and children. The sparse security forces that were stationed in these areas either failed to intervene or participated in the violence against Muslims.

Far from being a brief flash of violence, the carnage of October 22 lasted over a week in 9 of the state’s 17 townships: Minbya, Myebon, Mrauk-U, Pauktaw, Kyauk Pyu, Ramree, Kyauktaw, Rathedaung, and Thandwe. Most of these areas had not experienced violence in June.

Attacks on villages began as early as 5:30 in the morning. Residents from six villages in Mrauk-U Township alone, all attacked on October 23, said most attacks were long and drawn-out, lasting several hours.

That the attacks were planned and well-coordinated is evident in that many occurred the same day – and often the same time of day – in townships separated by considerable distance. For example, crowds of Arakanese descended on villages in Mrauk-U, Minbya, Kyauk Pyu, and Pauktaw townships all on October 23.

Many Rohingya reported that Arakanese coming to their villages were not local persons – because they did not look familiar, and because the size of the crowds exceeded the local Arakanese population. They suspected these Arakanese came from other townships.

Unlike in June, the Arakanese attackers also targeted Kaman Muslims residing in the still impoverished but relatively prosperous township of Kyauk Pyu – a coastal area of multi-billion dollar oil and gas investments and relatively high property values. The Kaman are citizens of Burma and legally recognized by the central government as an ethnic group. This ancestral home was destroyed in October and Kaman told Human Rights Watch they have no hopes of returning.

The violence that week displaced over 40,000 Muslims and a very small number of Arakanese. According to the government, since June over 115,000 people have been internally displaced in Arakan State, nearly all of whom are Rohingya.[105] Others estimate the number of displaced persons exceeds 126,000.[106] These estimates do not include the tens of thousands of Rohingya who have fled Burma in rickety boats, seeking asylum in Thailand, Malaysia, or Bangladesh.

While the figures of the displaced reveal the serious humanitarian crisis at hand – and clarify who is most vulnerable – they do not address the commission of acts that led to the displacement, nor the state’s support for those acts.[107]

Human Rights Watch has obtained new evidence of human rights violations accompanying the October 2012 violence in Arakan State. This includes several eyewitness accounts of a massacre of at least 70 Rohingya on October 23 in Yan Thei village, Mrauk-U Township, in which security forces responded poorly, some actively colluding with the attacking Arakanese, as well as evidence of other unlawful killings.

State security forces also used unlawful force while conducting large-scale security operations in the state. In some instances, there is evidence that security forces opened fire on Rohingya who were not threatening them.

Massacre in Yan Thei Village

At approximately 6:30 a.m. on October 23, several thousand Arakanese armed with spears, swords, knives, homemade guns, sticks, metal rods, Molotov cocktails, and other weapons approached the predominantly Rohingya Muslim village of Yan Thei in Mrauk-U Township. According to Rohingya survivors, only five to ten Lon Thein riot police had been deployed to protect the village despite ample warning that an organized attack by Arakanese was likely. When the Arakanese appeared, the small contingent of riot police put a red flag in the ground, fired shots in the air, and told each side no one was to cross the flag. When the Arakanese disregarded that order and attacked the village, the riot police did nothing to stop them.

Immediately prior to the Arakanese attack on Yan Thei, the Lon Thein squad had disarmed the Rohingya villagers of sticks and other rudimentary weapons they were holding, despite thousands of Arakanese with weapons approaching the village. They apparently made no effort to place themselves between the villagers and the attackers or lead the villagers to a safer location. A 25-year-old Rohingya man in Yan Thei told Human Rights Watch:

We had no arms. We only had wooden sticks, but the Lon Thein took them. First we went outside the village [when thousands of Arakanese approached], and then the Lon Thein told us to go back inside the village and then they took the sticks from our hands. First the [Lon Thein] security told us, “Do not do anything, we will protect you, we will save you,” so we trusted them. But later they broke that promise. The Arakanese beat and killed us very easily. The security did not protect us from them.[108]

Another Rohingya villager described what happened:

Many people came. They were Arakanese from outside the village. When they arrived in our village, the [Lon Thein] security opened fire in the air toward the Arakanese but they came again and again and finally burned down the village. After Lon Thein [initially] fired their guns, they took weapons from us and [the Lon Thein] stopped for two hours and went away. After two hours, they [the Lon Thein] came back and attacked us too.[109]

A 30-year-old Rohingya man who survived the attacks also alleged the Lon Thein participated in the attacks against them: “Lon Thein shot at us. They were accompanied by the Arakanese. I saw at least seven or ten Lon Thein holding guns. The nearby Arakanese villagers also came after us. There was nothing we could do.”[110] Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm if Lon Thein personnel directly committed killings in Yan Thei.

The same man said that the Lon Thein initially directed some of the Rohingya to leave the village as it was being attacked but later failed to protect them when the Arakanese assailants found them:

When the Arakanese first attacked [the village], the security personnel took some of us outside the village, near the cemetery. When they [Arakanese] were burning down our houses they [Arakanese] didn’t attack us, but after burning down the houses, they [Arakanese] attacked us in the cemetery with knives. They killed so many, more than 70 of us from the village, including women and children. Another 25 people were injured and are still here [outside Yan Thei village]. Some were hit on the head [with machetes] and some on their sides and hands.[111]

A 25-year-old Rohingya man said:

The policemen were telling us to go back in to the village. At that time the Arakanese were coming toward us [from the village]. We were trapped. ... First they [police and army] said they would protect us but when the violence started they took sides with the Arakanese people. ... When the Arakanese set fire to our village, they [the Arakanese] were using [slingshots] on the people too. One of my brothers was hit with a metal arrow. We went to help my brother and then some Arakanese cut the throats of two from our group. One man’s name is Mohammed Ahmin. He was 45 years old. He was the village head. I saw everything. I was very close, just a few feet away. I lost two other family members [in the violence in Yan Thei] and buried them.[112]

A 24-year-old Rohingya man said:

There were so many Arakanese coming to our village, from every side. They surrounded the village. The Arakanese stormed our village and started setting fire to our houses and threatening to kill us. Women and children fled the village first and some of the Arakanese chased them and killed them while some others Arakanese were still in the village, burning houses down. At least 30 children were killed, 25 women, and 10 men.[113]

Several Rohingya and Arakanese said the security forces did not intervene to stop violence until it had calmed in the early evening, after a full day of bloodshed. Rohingya villagers said reinforcements from the army did not arrive in the village until after 5 p.m., despite the attacks beginning in the morning and continuing all day.[114]

Another villager said: “I saw so many people killed, and so many houses burned. We were all running. The whole day was full of violence.”[115]

An Arakanese woman, 68, from Yan Thei said: “I didn’t see any police or army. I didn’t see any soldiers when the violence started.”[116] Another Arakanese woman added, “On that day the police or military were not stopping the violence.”[117]

Several Arakanese who did not participate in the violence told Human Rights Watch that when they fled their villages in Mrauk-U Township – some by van – they encountered Muslims while they were en route to Mrauk-U town, who fired slingshots at them. Again, they said, there was no security.[118]

While the Arakanese involved in attack on Yan Thei appeared to number in the thousands, assisted by riot police, the Burmese government has reportedly arrested only six Arakanese men for their role in the violence. By most recent accounts all are detained in Sittwe still awaiting charges.[119]

Several Arakanese from Yan Thei were killed or injured during the violence, while the remainder of the Arakanese villagers are now displaced, living in a Buddhist monastery in Mrauk-U town. A displaced Arakanese woman told Human Rights Watch that a group from the monastery visited Yan Thei with security provided by the army and police to collect the bodies of the Arakanese killed.[120]

Records from the village head seen by Human Rights Watch placed the number of Rohingya killed at 52. Two witnesses believe the number was more than 70.

Killings by Security Forces

In June and October, Burmese security forces killed numerous Muslims attempting to extinguish fires or otherwise limit damage to their homes. This suggests that the authorities were willing to use lethal force against Rohingya and Kaman Muslims who were trying to prevent a forced population transfer.

A Kaman Muslim, 31, told Human Rights Watch that he witnessed the police open fire on a group of Muslims in Kyauk Pyu on October 23 in the presence of army soldiers who did nothing:

I saw three people hit by bullets from the police. They were seriously wounded and eventually died. ... They were standing right in front of me trying to stop the fires. They had water buckets. When I was trying to pour water on the fire, a man next to me was shot in the back of the head.[121]

The man said those killed were Muhammad Rafi, 21, Ali Khan, 16, and Ibrahim, 17.

A 52-year-old Kaman Muslim shopkeeper from Kyauk Pyu witnessed the shootings as well and said:

Three boys were shot in front of me. They died and we took the bodies to the mosque. It was the police who shot them. When they were shot they were trying to stop the fires near the mosque. They were shot in the head, the chest, behind the ear.[122]

A Kaman man, 49, from Baik Seik village in Kyauk Pyu told Human Rights Watch:

One side of the road was Arakanese and one side was Muslim. They [the Arakanese] came and set fire to the Muslim houses. We were trying to extinguish the fires. When the houses were burning they came to our mosque. They threw petroleum bottles [Molotov cocktails] at the mosque. Nearly 50 or 60 bottles were thrown. ... Some houses around the mosque also burned down. At that time we gathered to defend ourselves against the Arakanese but the police shot at us. Three died on the spot and another five were injured. I was near to it, maybe 20 yards away. ... The police were the ones who fired their guns. The army just watched.[123]

A Kaman man, 39, from Kyauk Pyu said that he witnessed the killing of a teenage boy by the army on October 23:

I saw my neighbor Sicthu Myint shot by the army. He was killed on the spot. He was 16 years old. I was standing in front of my house. I heard the sound first and then I saw him fall down. I didn’t see exactly which person shot him but the army was nearby, just across the street, in front of him – they shot him.[124]

In Minbya Township, at least six Rohingya villages were burned down. Tha Yet Oak village in Minbya Township – regarded as the most prosperous Rohingya village in the state – is connected to a nearby Arakanese village by a single road. On the morning of October 22, an estimated 3,000 Arakanese with various weapons approached Tha Yet Oak on the road. A 56-year-old Rohingya man said the violence began after morning prayers:

There were only five army soldiers in the [Arakanese section of the] village. The Arakanese were coming and coming. First they attacked and set fire to Khamal Ahmud’s house. Then they set fire to Usman’s house, and then Nurul’s house. At that time, some other Arakanese were attacking with [slingshots] and spears, so we fled to the riverside. Seven people were injured. One had been shot. Seven were killed and six children are still missing. I saw the Arakanese shoot guns with my own eyes. The village is totally burned down.[125]

He and others initially fled to Mrauk-U Township until they encountered ongoing attacks in another area of Mrauk-U Township, and turned around.[126]

Witnesses also told us that in early October, Burmese military personnel dumped the bodies of three Rohingya prisoners in an area outside Ba Du Baw IDP camp, which local Rohingya buried in a single grave. They said the bodies showed signs of torture. One of the witness, a Rohingya man, 48, said:

There were three dead bodies from the jail. We buried them. The car was a military truck but the people in charge told us the bodies were from the jail. One person's body was beaten and his ankle joint was very dislocated. There was a large wound on the leg. The chest looked broken. It was sunken in. There were bruises on all their faces.[127]

Arakanese assailants were among those killed in the violence. In the Muslim quarter of Kyauk Pyu, near the seashore, significant violence was directed at Kaman Muslims who were preparing to flee by boat. A Kaman Muslim man, 49, estimates that nearly 2,000 Arakanese approached the boats “and tried to attack” them as they were waiting for high tide so their boats could depart. He said:

We also had weapons. There were nearly 300 of us men. We got out of the boats and were waiting for the fight. At that time one Arakanese man came alone towards us and our villagers chopped him to death. He died on the spot. Another man also came towards us and we killed him too. Someone cut his head off and a person from our village held it up and showed it to the others [Arakanese]. At that time the army came and pointed their guns towards us. They shot in the air and our people retreated to the boats.[128]

An Arakanese woman, 32, who was part of a small Arakanese minority living in the predominantly Rohingya village of Purin in Mrauk-U Township, described what happened when an Arakanese mob attacked the village:

Some Muslims were crawling through the paddy farms, carrying homemade weapons, as the Arakanese people started coming to fight. One Arakanese guy went close to those who were crawling in the paddies and they attacked him, and started to hack his body with swords. I saw that when I was on the way to find safety at the school.[129]

An Arakanese man in Mrauk-U Township told Human Rights Watch that 16 Arakanese men had died in the violence in October but only 5 bodies were recovered. He said that they knew who went into the village to “fight” with the Rohingya, and they judged the number killed according to who was unaccounted for after the violence.[130] This was confirmed by other Arakanese.[131]

None of the eyewitnesses to the violence with whom we spoke said the authorities had sought their testimony regarding killings. To date, the government has done little to establish the identities of the deceased, or interview witnesses to the killings, let alone to steps to hold perpetrators accountable. Two Rohingya said they were interviewed by the presidential commission to investigate the situation in Arakan State, but there is no evidence of any ongoing inquiry into killings by state security forces.

In response to questions submitted to the government by Human Rights Watch, the Ministry of Border Affairs claimed there were 211 deaths since June – 59 Arakanese and 152 Rohingya – and that it determined that figure “by collecting information and data from both sides of the conflicted parties and from townships and villages, ten households and hospitals.”[132]

Government Failure to Protect

In October 2012, Burmese army and navy units in some instances provided security for Rohingya and Kaman Muslims who were under attack by Arakanese, or were fleeing violence.[133] Very often, however, security was either inadequate or absent, security forces did not intervene to stop the violence, or actively colluded with Arakanese attackers.

Local authorities should have expected and planned for the violence. According to Hla Thein of the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD), which enjoys support among Rohingya in northern Arakan State, “There were [threats of violence] ahead of the riots [in October]. We knew Kyauk Pyu was going to burn and repeatedly warned concerned government authorities about it but they kept on saying ‘We got it’ and then the town was burned down.”[134]

In Minbya, Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, and Kyauk Pyu Townships, security forces were largely absent. If present, they at most fired warning shots in the air to stop approaching groups of Arakanese and then stepped aside. In several reported cases, they actively participated in the violence.

As described above, on October 23 the security forces in Yan Thei village disarmed the Muslim residents and then fired in the air as the Arakanese mob approached before standing aside while the massacre took place. Some members of the security forces directly participated in the day-long killing.[135]

Security forces were all but absent when thousands of Arakanese with weapons attacked Tha Yet Oak village in Minbya Township, despite months of rising tensions there. A 56-year-old Rohingya from Tha Yet Oak told Human Rights Watch:

More than 3,000 Arakanese came from three sides. There were no Lon Thein and only a few military are stationed in Tha Yet Oak, in the Arakanese village. There were no security personnel [based] in our Rohingya village. At that time, an army man fired a warning shot in the air but the Arakanese also shot into the air. They had guns, too.[136]

Muslim areas in Pauktaw were also under threat but little government security was provided. When the threat of violence by groups of Arakanese was brought to the attention of government officials during community meetings in the months prior to the October attacks, Rohingya villagers said they were simply told to prepare to flee. A Rohingya fisherman from Pauktaw said:

We had no security for our lives in our village. We tried to stay there but it was impossible. The Arakanese were coming every night, shouting and threatening to set fires. We reported it to military and police security and they advised us that in these conditions we should not stay and we should leave this place.[137]

A predominantly Kaman Muslim section of Kyauk Pyu town in Kyauk Pyu Township was attacked by Arakanese with weapons on October 23 and 24. A Kaman Muslim man said he witnessed the police kill three people. He said the police and army failed to intervene when thousands of hostile Arakanese entered his village. He said:

When the tensions were highest [on October 23] the police and army did not come. Before, they came every day during the previous month, but on that day they did not come. When the soldiers finally arrived in the village, we asked for help for security, but they just stood along the side of the street. They told everyone to come out of their houses. They said it was not their problem where we would go – they just said we should go. I saw maybe 20 police and 20 soldiers total. The Arakanese people were in the thousands. The authorities had weapons and the Arakanese had sticks and knives and other weapons. I saw some Arakanese carrying a few tanks of petrol. It was before the fires started. The police and army did nothing.[138]

A Kaman man, 62, from Kyauk Pyu said:

The next day [October 24] at 5 a.m. more and more Arakanese were gathering for a meeting and when dawn broke they entered into the Muslim part of the village. At 7 a.m. I saw two Arakanese people and two army soldiers walking together. They crossed in front of me. I asked the soldier if he had any orders to protect the Muslim people. “Please be aware of your duty, we are very weak,” I said. The soldier replied, “The only thing you can do is pray to save your lives.”[139]

Another Kaman Muslim, 43, said: “I saw five or more army soldiers in front of my fish shop. The whole village was burning. When I saw the soldiers I thought they would help us, but they just shouted at us to get out quickly.”[140]

During the violence in Kyauk Pyu, local security forces and groups of Arakanese colluded in committing violent acts that forced the remaining Kaman Muslims to flee. A Kaman man, 31, from Kyauk Pyu said:

On October 23 many Arakanese came into the village and said, “This is not your place, this is our property because this country is ours.” The military and police entered the village and said the same things to us. They said we should go. ... The police and military came and told people to come out of their house, and they said if we didn’t we’d all be killed. They said they couldn’t provide us with security. At that time, the Arakanese people had started setting fires. They set the mosque on fire first and then the houses. ... And in the presence of the military and police, they entered our homes and took what they wanted. Most of the people in Kyauk Pyu possess property. They took our belongings and then set fires [to our houses]. They [the authorities] didn’t take any action against them.[141]

Security forces also participated in confiscation of property, particularly in Kyauk Pyu where the Kaman Muslim population was relatively prosperous by local standards. A Kaman Muslim said:

The soldiers walked in front of my house and ordered us to get out of our houses. Before setting fire to my house, they came and took all my goods and property from my house. It was the Arakanese, police, and army. I sent my family somewhere else for safety. When they were taking my property I went to a nearby place to secretly watch what they were doing.[142]

A Rohingya man, 27, from Minbya articulated a common sentiment among Muslims whom Human Rights Watch interviewed, saying: “We cannot get any protection from police and very little from the army.”[143]

An Arakanese woman, 32, who is part of the small group of Arakanese who live in the predominantly Muslim village of Purin in Mrauk-U Township, said she did not participate in the violence: “When the unrest started, during that time there was no security. One woman called by phone to downtown. The police told us before that if violence started we should call them, but they came very late. That is why people were killed.”[144]

Rohingya villagers fleeing Pauktaw on October 23 and 24 encountered Burmese navy ships at sea that provided them with temporary protection overnight, including food and water, before permitting them to continue their flight to Sittwe where they hoped to find a safe haven. Others, however, explained that the navy told them they had no permission to travel onward to Sittwe and sent them back to their villages – and into the hands of their attackers. For instance, a Rohingya man from Pauktaw said:

When we left our village, we crossed near the navy and the navy stopped us and sent us back toward our village. The navy showed us their guns and said we weren’t allowed to go to Sittwe. After one night and one day passed, we came to Sittwe. That time the navy didn’t stop us.[145]

At least 150 boats of Rohingya families fled the area of Pauktaw. While security forces in Pauktaw and navy ships at sea facilitated the flight of some who fled from Pauktaw, the Nasaka did not let them land once they reached the shores of Sittwe, at the time the only location with official IDP camps. A Rohingya fisherman said: “When we reached here at the beach, the Nasaka and army arrived and pushed us back to the sea. We tried to force our way on the shore but they wouldn’t let us come on shore.”[146]

Moreover, those who were ultimately granted permission by navy ships to go to Sittwe were, upon arrival, kept isolated on beaches by security forces that failed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and subjected them to beatings.

Beatings and Other Abuses by Security Forces

The security person said we could not stay and we had to go, and they beat us with their gun barrels. They kicked us and beat us with sticks, too. They beat us for nearly two hours. I am younger so I was behind the village elders. First they kicked and beat the elders of the village.
Rohingya man, 27, Pauktaw, Arakan State, October 2012

Burmese security forces committed numerous abuses against civilians during large-scale security operations in Maungdaw and surrounding villages following the sectarian violence in June 2012.[147] No action was taken against those responsible. After the violence in October 2012, the security forces again committed serious violations against local populations.

Thousands of Rohingya fled attacks by Arakanese in Pauktaw in late October by taking boats to the coast near Sittwe. State security forces prevented these Rohingya from entering the areas where official IDP camps were located. Instead they forced them to remain in various coastal areas without shelter or access to basic necessities for several weeks. During this time the Rohingya were subject to beatings and other mistreatment by the security forces.

A 30-year-old Rohingya man who fled from Pauktaw told Human Rights Watch that displaced people whom the security forces deemed to have spent too much time in makeshift latrine areas – near an unofficial IDP site outside Sittwe – were beaten:

One day [following the October violence] the troops beat up five people here at the coconut garden [makeshift IDP site]. There are no latrines so when we go to the toilet we have to cross the field. The security accused those who went to the toilet of taking too much time and beat them up. Two of them became unconscious. I saw it happen.[148]

A Rohingya man, 27, from Pauktaw said:

We had our boats and because of the heavy tide the boats filled with water, so we had to empty them manually. We had to go and do that every day. When I was doing that a Nasaka soldier with a rifle hit me with the butt. I was hit here on the shoulder and it still is painful.[149]

There is evidence that the abuses continued well after the October violence. On November 31, Police Battalion 12 moved approximately 250 Rohingya displaced persons who had constructed shelter near an area known as the Old Bridge, located between IDP camps outside Sittwe. The authorities allegedly moved the group to Sin Ta Maw, in Pauktaw Township, against their will, but five families stayed behind. One woman in the group who had remained had given birth less than two weeks before, and another was in the later stages of pregnancy. The authorities returned the following day, December 1, and beat the woman who had given birth and several others, according to aid workers.[150] This attracted a crowd of Rohingya and then the police opened fire, wounding several Rohingya. A Rohingya man present told Human Rights Watch:

The police and state government tried to evacuate some people from near the Old Bridge to the Sin Ta Maw camp. ... The people didn’t want to go to Sin Ta Maw so they didn’t want to go to the army truck, and the police battalion opened fire on them. I saw at least two men and one woman shot and injured by the bullets. They left the wounded behind and just left.[151]

Human Rights Watch spoke to others who alleged that eight Rohingya were wounded in the shooting and that the police left them behind. However, we were unable to independently confirm the reasons why the authorities were moving the displaced persons, or to where.[152]

Amateur video footage taken on October 23 and 24 shows police and Arakanese casually standing together in areas of Kyauk Pyu while the town is in flames. In some scenes Arakanese are throwing what appear to be Molotov cocktails onto properties while security forces stand nearby. Muslims attempt to extinguish fires at one end of a road while Arakanese, security forces, and a fire truck all wait idly at the other end of the road. In one scene, police appear to shoot directly into a small group of Rohingya, one of whom has a slingshot, while Arakanese stand behind the police, watching.[153]

Since June 2012, the UN and its humanitarian partners in Arakan State have also independently documented numerous human rights abuses committed by the Burmese authorities against the Rohingya. These include forced labor – for sentry duty, road maintenance, and “camp related tasks” – and arbitrary detention, including of children below the age of 16, and extortion.[154]

Satellite Imagery Showing the Scope of the Destruction

The Burmese government claims that 10,100 private, public, and religious buildings were burned or destroyed in Arakan State since June 2012, specifically 4,800 in June and 5,300 in October.[155]

Satellite images obtained by Human Rights Watch from merely four of the nine townships that experienced violence in October 2012 – Pauktaw, Kyauk Pyu, Myebon, and Mrauk-U – show 2,304 destroyed structures. Satellite images of affected areas in Sittwe, depicting destruction that occurred in June, show an additional 2,558 destroyed structures. In total, this satellite imagery documents the near-total destruction of 4,862 structures in 27 unique zones of destruction. The area covers 348 acres of mostly residential property in 5 of the 13 townships that experienced violence since June.

The affected areas are all predominantly Muslim neighborhoods and villages occupied by Rohingya, except Kyauk Pyu, where Kaman Muslims predominantly populated the destroyed areas.

The areas of scorched earth captured in the imagery include Narzi quarter in Sittwe, previously home to 10,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims and the economic center of Sittwe; Yan Thei village, which was the site of a massacre; and Kyauk Pyu, where those burned out were Kaman Muslims.

[104] Human Rights Watch interview with K.R., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[105] UNOCHA, Rakhine Response Plan, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Revised%20Rakhine%20Response%20Plan%20%28amended%29.pdf, p. 1.

[106] See European Commission, “Myanmar: Displaced Rohingyas still in dire need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” January 31, 2013, http://ec.europa.eu/echo/media/photos/picture_stories/burma06_en.htm (accessed February 11, 2013).

[107] The government estimate of IDPs is undoubtedly on the low side because it is based on the number of displaced who are registered in formal camps and not those who are in more remote or unregistered displacement sites.

[108] Human Rights Watch interview with K.S., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[109] Human Rights Watch interview with J.R., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[110] Human Rights Watch interview with J.Q., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[111] Human Rights Watch interview with J.Q., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[112] Human Rights Watch interview with K.S., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[113] Human Rights Watch interview with J.R., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[114] Human Rights Watch interviews with J.Q., J.R., K.S., Mrauk-U township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[115] Human Rights Watch interview with K.S., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[116] Human Rights Watch interview with L.Q., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[117] Human Rights Watch interview with M.S., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[118] Human Rights Watch interviews with Arakanese IDPs in Mrauk-U Township, November 2012.

[119] “Police Extends [sic] Remand of Six Arrested Arakanese Men in Sittwe,” Narinjara, November 24, 2012, http://www.bnionline.net/index.php/news/narinjara/14217-police-extends-remand-of-six-arrested-arakanese-men-in-sittwe.html (accessed December 5, 2012).

[120] Human Rights Watch interview with L.O., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[121] Human Rights Watch interview with S.M., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[122] Human Rights Watch interview with J.K., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[123] Human Rights Watch interview with K.R., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[124] Human Rights Watch interview with L.S., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[125] Human Rights Watch interview with K.J., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[126] Ibid.

[127] Human Rights Watch interview with K.Q., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012. See also Human Rights Watch group interview, displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[128] Human Rights Watch interview with K.R., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[129] Human Rights Watch interview with L.O., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[130] Human Rights Watch interview with L.N., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[131] Human Rights Watch group interview, Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[132] See Appendix II, Ministry of Border Affairs, “Answers for English Version on Human Rights Watch Questions,” Government of Burma response to Human Rights Watch, February 26, 2013, pp. 2-3. Note the government referred to 211 “casualties” and then went on to explain 270 injuries – 153 Arakanese and 117 Rohingya, leaving us to determine that by “casualties” they meant “dead.”

[133] Human Rights Watch interviews with S.J., L.S., M.N., M.O., displacement sites, Arakan State, November 2012.

[134]Aye Nai, “Group Says Death Toll in Arakan Higher Than Gov’t Figures,” Democratic Voice of Burma, November 13, 2012, http://www.dvb.no/news/group-says-death-toll-in-arakan-higher-than-gov%E2%80%99t-figures/24723 (accessed February 2, 2013).

[135] See the section of this report, “The Massacre in Yan Thei Village.”

[136]Human Rights Watch interview with K.J., Minbya Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[137] Human Rights Watch interview with S.K., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[138] Human Rights Watch interview with S.M., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[139] Human Rights Watch interview with J.K., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[140] Human Rights Watch interview with L.K., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[141] Human Rights Watch interview with S.M., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[142] Human Rights Watch interview with K.R., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[143] Human Rights Watch interview with J.N., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, November 2012.

[144] Human Rights Watch interview with L.O., Mrauk-U Township, Arakan State, November 2012.

[145] Human Rights Watch interview with S.J., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[146] Human Rights Watch interview with M.N., displacement site, Arakan State, November 2012.

[147] Human Rights Watch, The Government Could Have Stopped This, pp. 29-30.

[148] Human Rights Watch interview with S.O., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[149] Human Rights Watch interview with M.N., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, October 2012.

[150] Telephone and email communications with two aid workers in Sittwe, Arakan State, December 2-4, 2012.

[151] Human Rights Watch interview with M.P., displacement site, Sittwe, Arakan State, December 2012.

[152] Telephone and email communications with two aid workers in Sittwe, Arakan State, December 2-4, 2012.

[153] This footage was provided by a local individual to Reuters, and viewed by Human Rights Watch.

[154]UNOCHA, Rakhine Response Plan, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Revised%20Rakhine%20Response%20Plan%20%28amended%29.pdf, p. 28.

[155] UNOCHA, Rakhine Response Plan, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Revised%20Rakhine%20Response%20Plan%20%28amended%29.pdf, p. 1.