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Rohingya rebel leader challenges Suu Kyi
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 04 - 2017

The leader of a Rohingya Muslims said on Friday his group would keep fighting "even if a million die" unless the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, took action to protect the religious minority.
In his first independently conducted media interview, Ata Ullah, who has been identified by analysts and local people as the group's leader, denied links to foreign Islamists and said it was focused on the rights of the Rohingya, who say they face persecution at the hands of Myanmar's Buddhist majority.
"If we don't get our rights, if 1 million, 1.5 million, all Rohingya need to die, we will die," he said, speaking via a video call from an undisclosed location. "We will take our rights. We will fight with the cruel military government."
A United Nations report issued last month said Myanmar's security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity.
More than a million Rohingya live in northwestern Myanmar's Rakhine State, where they are denied citizenship, freedom of movement and access to services such as healthcare. Serious ethnic clashes between Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in 2012 in which more than 100 people were killed and some 140,000 were displaced.
"In 2012, lots of things happened and they killed us, so we understood at that time, they would not give us our rights," said Ata Ullah.
Rohingya refugees Reuters has spoken to in camps in Bangladesh have said that many initially sympathized with the insurgents, but that the violence their campaign has unleashed had cost them support.
Myanmar's military said last month that what it called a clearance operation in northwestern Rakhine had ended, although the area remains closed to outside observers.
Ata Ullah did not respond to several questions regarding the group's future strategy, its current location or how many fighters were left with him. Flanking him as a spoke to Reuters was another man brandishing a machine gun.
The Rohingya crisis has posed the biggest challenge to Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi's government, which on Thursday marked its first year in power. Her defenders say there is little she can do, given the constitution gives her no control over the military.
"The people are in such trouble, the military is so cruel to many in the Rohingya community, so she should speak out, do something for these people as a Nobel prize winner," said Ata Ullah. "If she tries to do something for us, the military would do something to her government. That's why she will not protect us." — Reuters


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