In Person

Abducted Hindu Rica: ARSA Killed My Husband

By Min Aung Khine 6 October 2017

On Aug. 25, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched coordinated attacks on 30 police posts in Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine State.

The Myanmar government released a statement on Sept. 24 saying ARSA abducted around 100 men and women from several Hindu villages in Kha Mauk Seik village tract on Aug. 25 and killed the majority of abductees.

Security forces unearthed 45 dead Hindus, including six children, near Ye Baw Kya village in northern Maungdaw Township on Sept. 24 and 25.

Eight Hindu women, aged between 15 and 25, and eight children who said they were abducted by ARSA arrived back in Myanmar on Oct. 3 and gave their accounts of the massacre.

According to their account, about 500 Muslim villagers of Khamaungseik led by self-identifying Rohingya leader Norulauk and what they described as a “foreign terrorist leader in black dress” came and killed 45 villagers of Ye Baw Kya on Aug. 25.

Rica, 25, one of eight Hindu women whose husband was killed by ARSA told The Irrawaddy about the massacre, how they were abducted and how they eventually escaped:

Ma Rica, how is your health and how are things going with you?

I’m good. Everything is fine. We’re now staying at military camp [in Buthidaung]. We don’t know how long we have to stay here. We are altogether eight women and eight children.

When did you arrive back in Myanmar?

We arrived back on Oct. 3. We came [back] from Bangladesh. We had to stay one month and five days in Bangladesh at Kutupalong Refugee Camp. Bengalis tried to find us to kill us.

How were you abducted by terrorists?

They came into our village [Ye Baw Kya] around 8 a.m. on Aug. 25. They took all our phones, and surrounded the village. They tied us up and blindfolded the men. They beat the men, and asked how much gold and cash we had. I gave them all my possessions. Then they took all the villagers outside the village to Baw Tala village. Then they put men and women in separate groups. We eight women were put in a separate place. They slit the throat of men first, and knifed children and women. Then they asked eight of us if we would convert to Islam, and we won’t be killed if we did. They said the God we believe in is nothing and their Islam is mighty. So, we said we would convert to Islam if they didn’t slash us. So, they didn’t kill us.

What happened then?

We stayed overnight in Baw Tala village that day. We were forced to eat beef [Hindu followers abstain from eating beef], and study to dress like Muslim [women]. We didn’t eat, but the children ate a little.

Didn’t you beg terrorists not to kill your husbands?

We did. We went down on bended knees and begged them. We had given them all our gold and made them promise not to kill our husbands. They slashed my husband even after they got gold from us. I told them that I had given them a lot of gold and asked them not to kill him. When they were about to kill my children, I said I won’t do as they want if they kill my children. I said I didn’t want to survive if they killed my children. [So, they didn’t.] We have a gold shop. Bengalis took all 30 ticals of gold and over four million kyats.

How did they take you to Bangladesh?

They took us on foot beyond the mountains in the west of Khamaungseik village. We had to sleep two nights on mountains. We had nothing to eat and it was absolutely terrible. We arrived in Bangladesh on Aug. 28.

Who were the people who attacked your village?

They included villagers of Khamaungseik as well as terrorists. I recognized around ten Khamaungseik villagers. Their leader is Norulauk. While we were detained at Baw Ta La village, five people guarded us. Others left, saying they would attack the government. The five men who were guarding us said this area [Rakhine] is not a Hindu State, not a Bamar State. They said they would turn the area [from Maungdaw border] to Sittwe to their [self-identifying Rohingya] State.  We were brought by those five Bengalis to Bangladesh. The rest were left in Myanmar reportedly to attack the government. Now, they are in Bangladesh. I saw them in clothes which they had taken from our brothers and husbands.

Who came and rescued you from Bangladesh?

We arrived in Bangladesh on Aug. 28 at Kutupalong Camp. Then, they brought Mawlawis and initiated us into the Islam faith. We were asked to repeat Muslim words and shout “Allah.” We were also asked to eat beef, and wear Burqas. Then a Muslim boy there reportedly told a Hindu barber at Kutupalong market that eight Hindu women from Myanmar were being Islamized. Hindu elders came and rescued us around 8 p.m. in the evening.

How did the Muslim boy know about you?

As soon as we arrived in Bangladesh, we were given lunch at a house. Then, they interviewed us and video-recorded it. They asked us to say in the interview that Hindus were killed by Arakanese people. They also asked us to say that our husbands, parents and relatives as well as Muslims were killed by the government; and that we would be killed if we didn’t.

So, how did you escape?

We contacted [Hindu community leader] U Ni Mal. We sneaked out of Kutupalong Camp. We left for Taung Pyo Letwe in the car of a Hindu man. It took around one and a half hours. On the way, we were inspected by the Bangladesh border guards. The driver said we were going to Deepavali Festival [a Hindu religious festival]. When we got out of the car, we saw government officials waiting for us in Taung Pyo Letwe.