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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

The double-edged sword of persecution on Rohingya has turned Arakan into a battleground and bloodbath

Art by Enayet Khan and words by Ahtaram Shin

In the harshness of the Arakan conflict and the cries of surviving civilians, the Rohingya find themselves ensnared as brutal targets, not only by the notorious Myanmar military but also by the rebel Arakan Army (AA). This double-edged sword of persecution has turned their homeland into a battleground and a bloodbath for the Rohingya.

The recent three paintings by Enayet Khan shed light on the current situation of Arakan. They visually explain what is actually happening with Rohingya due to the intensive clashes between the Arakan Army and the Junta. The Rohingya in Maungdaw and Buthidaung are enduring severe risks and brutality. Both groups are targeting the Rohingya; resulting their homes are being destroyed, villages are being used as battlefields, and mass killings of all ages of Rohingya civilians are being carried out deliberately. Moreover,the belongings of Rohingya such as jewelry, money and mobile phones have been being looted by the Arakan Army while fleeing the villages due to battles.

According to the statements of the victims, the situation in Arakan, their suffering reflects a different reality. The Moghs rebels have been continually targeting Rohingya villages in Maungdaw with heavy artillery, drones, and bombs, using the villages as their battleground after completely demolishing Buthidaung and burning down 8,000 houses of Rohingya people. They also used Rohingya individuals as human shields, porters, frontliners, and guards, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and further displacement. These atrocities remain largely unreported.

About 5,000 Rohingyas have been stuck in Ward-5 in Buthidaung downtown for over a month. They have run out of the basic necessities like food and supplies they fled with, and the AA Moghs are preventing anyone from entering or leaving the ward. There is a major problem with diarrhea, but they cannot get any medicine or medical treatment; already, 10 children have died. "There are some newborn babies, but both mothers and babies have not even received the tetanus vaccine," said Myo Hlaing. He also appealed to the international community to pressure and rescue these people urgently and give medical supplies, many people are injured and wounded, but they are not receiving any treatment and are dying in severe conditions,"

Recently, photos and videos have been posted by AA showing their forces assisting Rohingya people in evacuating conflict-affected areas.

Artist Enayet Khan explained: "Behind the dramatic scenes and photography of the Mogh's rebellion, there are huge heartbreaking catastrophic insights according to my relatives statement. First, they looted all the belongings such as jewelry, cash, livestock, and other valuable items from the Rohingya people. Then they created the scene of evacuation and assisted them to run away. But now they are creating a false narrative to garner international support and humanitarian aid. When I heard about from my relatives, I visualised the scene in this painting to give the real sense of Rohingya's situation."

Md Eshahak, a 30-year-old man, was killed by AA. Other family members, including his wife, were also injured. Mohammed Ali, a pseudonym for a reporter, stated that AA looted all the valuable jewelry and money from Eshahak's home as well.

In a recent statement, AA moghs rebel claims that they are protecting Rohingya who are internally displaced in Arakan due to the clashes between Junta and AA, including approximately 200,000 in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships, where 80% are Rohingya Muslims and 20% are other ethnic people. Along they call for international aid to meet the needs of these populations, emphasizing their commitment to safeguarding all citizens, irrespective of race or religion. On the other hand, AA's chief Twan Mrat Naing repeatedly posted venomous propaganda to his nearly 80,000 followers in X (formerly Twitter) account and other Rakhine and AA leaders are also using many media outlets to spread propaganda and hate speeches against Rohingya.

Most seriously, Rohingya women are facing brutal assaults and sexual abuse, with no safe zones remaining. Through this painting, Enayet sheds light on various aspects of the Rohingya struggle in the battles of many people are injured and suffering without treatment for their wounds. Some are physically abused and raped, but there is no way to expose these atrocities due to communication cutoffs. Many attempt to flee and cross the border, but it is closed in all directions, forcing victims to move around with their belongings. The Rohingya are left with no choice but to pray and await death from the drones and bombs of the AA and Junta.

On 23 June, the Arakan Army (AA) ordered the residents of Ward No. 02 in Maungdaw town to leave the village, citing the need for the village in their fight against the military. They forced the Rohingya to leave the village, threatening arson and bombings if they refused to evacuate Maungdaw town.

Artist Enayet Khan stated: ''Through this abstract art and painting, I draw the international community's attention to the horrific situation in Maungdaw and Buthidaung, urging humanitarian agencies to intervene and save these innocent and vulnerable Rohingya

Recently AA claims in an interview in The New Humanitarian that their commitment are to protect equal citizenship and human rights for all individual residents in Arakan will never be wavered. While they also said that the demand of Rohingya ethnic and citizenship right is a harmful act of other communities of Arakan. In this aspect, the international community must recognize these deceptive practices and understand the true policy and overall motive of AA. It would be late if the international community failed to take the urgent action in this time to protect the remaining Rohingya in Arakan, ensuring their safety and well-being while holding the extremist moghs and Junta accountable for their war crimes.



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