A Rohingya Muslim militant group denied accusations Friday that it slaughtered Hindu civilians amid last year’s outburst of violence in which Myanmar’s military drove some 700,000 Rohingya out of the country.
The London-based human-rights group Amnesty International issued a report earlier this week stating that its investigations supported allegations first made by Myanmar’s military that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army had killed dozens of Hindus during the upheaval in western Myanmar. Hindus and Muslims are minorities in the Buddhist-dominated country in Southeast Asia.
The militant group said in a statement that it categorically denies “unjustifiable and careless serious criminal accusations’’ and said it was “illogical’’ that it would target Hindus, a group it doesn’t view as a threat. Amnesty stood by the report, saying it was carried out with “rigor and tenacity.’’
The Amnesty report caused a stir because human-rights organizations have generally focused on the alleged crimes Myanmar’s military committed against the Rohingya. Doctors Without Borders has estimated that 6,000 Rohingya were killed in a campaign that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.
Zaw Htay, a Myanmar government spokesman, welcomed the Amnesty report’s conclusions. Myanmar has rejected allegations of atrocities and ethnic cleansing committed by its troops but refused to allow access to the affected areas by journalists and investigators. Amnesty has called for free access to allow investigations to be carried out.
The Rohingya have long been a target of persecution by Myanmar’s government and military, who view them as a security threat and as illegal immigrants despite many living there for generations.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army formed after a previous bout of violence against the Rohingya in 2012. It is believed to have attracted hundreds of fighters but is poorly equipped and led.