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Myanmar's ARSA: Freedom fighters or 'terrorists'?

Myanmar's ARSA: Freedom fighters or 'terrorists'?
From Al Jazeera - January 6, 2018

Until recently, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) was little known beyond the borders of Myanmar.

The armed group fighting Myanmar's security forces in Rakhine state wants an end to decades of persecution of the country's Rohingya minority.

On August 25, 2017, they launched simultaneous attacks on police stations and border outposts, killing dozens of people.

The police and military use various way to suppress us. They beat, torture and humiliate us. That is why we decided to stand up.

Mohammed*, ARSA fighter

The Myanmar security forces had not previously been challenged in such a violent way and responded with an unprecedented crackdown.

Since then, Rohingya have kept coming across the border into Bangladesh, fleeing what the UN describes as an ethnic cleansing.

At least 800,000 people have so far sought refuge in Bangladesh.

They tell stories of atrocities committed by Myanmar's security forces. There are reports of women and girls as young as 10 being gang raped. Others have described horrific scenes of babies being snatched from the arms of their parents and thrown into fires.

The crackdown continues and a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Bangladesh as a result.

Nicolas Haque speaks with a member of ARSA who participated in the August attacks.

"We attacked them because they refuse to give us our basic rights as citizens," Mohammed* says.

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