The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group that the Myanmar government blames for sparking the violence that led to the mass exodus of Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh, is blamed for the mass slaughter.
The purported killings took place in two separate incidents on August 25, 2017, the same day that ARSA killed 12 members of Myanmar’s security forces in a coordinated attack on 30 police posts.
In the first incident, ARSA militants allegedly robbed, bound and blindfolded Hindu villagers in the northern Maungdaw Township before killing 53 of them. Eight women and children were spared under the condition that they convert to Islam.
An 18-year-old woman who survived the attack told Amnesty International that the attackers were armed with knives and iron rods, and that her father, brother and uncle were all killed. Another woman said she saw the militants slit the throats of women and children.
Forty-six Hindus disappeared from a neighbouring village the same day, and are believed to have been killed by the same band of ARSA militants, bringing the combined death toll to 99.
The report comes less than a week after Myanmar’s permanent representative at the United Nations criticized Western nations and the media for pushing what he labelled “Muslim victimhood narratives,” and ignoring ARSA’s killings of border guards and Hindu, Buddhist and other minority groups.
Amnesty International says the slaughter of villagers underscores the fact that gross human rights violations are being perpetrated by both the Rohingya militants and the Myanmar government.
“ARSA’s appalling attacks were followed by the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population as a whole. Both must be condemned – human rights violations or abuses by one side never justify abuses or violations by the other,” said Amnesty International crisis response director Tirana Hassan.
WATCH: Report alleges Myanmar military burned, looted and killed in a remote village
The Myanmar government’s response to the August 25 attacks has widely been condemned as disproportionate.
Some 6,700 Rohingya were killed by security forces in just the first month following the attacks on border guards and villagers, according to international aid group Médecins Sans Frontières.
ARSA was formed in 2012 in response to decades of systematic and institutionalized discrimination against the mostly-Muslim Rohingya people of Rakhine state, according to the Belgium-based International Crisis Group (ICG).
The group is believed to have been founded by Ata Ullah, a Rohingya who was born to refugees in Pakistan and moved to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he received an Islamic education.
ICG says ARSA’s operations are controlled by some 20 Saudi-based Rohingyas, including Ata Ullah.