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Friday, December 22, 2017

Is the Maung Nu Massacre A Recycled Islamist Atrocity?

(A Myanmar Massacre Considered Through the Lens of a Syrian One)
Adam Larson 
December 22, 2017
(rough, incomplete)
edits 12-23,24...

Note: sorry this is sloppy to start and hard to read - I'll tighten it up. But I feel I have to get this out there quickly.
In recent days, there's been a concerted effort by the controlled Western establishment media to inform us of a horrible massacre committed by the authorities in Myanmar a little while back. We hear some 82 to "more than 100" Muslim civilians were rounded up and massacred in Maung Nu in the restive Rakhine state on August 27. Mostly men were killed, stabbed and hacked to death, but some children and women were killed and dumped in pits, and some women were raped but spared to talk about it. As told. It's reported as some twisted collective punishment for an attack two days earlier by Rohingya militants against government security posts, and not for any other kind of incident at that time. And one incident of great interest isn't getting mentioned now. (keep reading...)

The Associated Press has reconstructed the massacre at Maung Nu as told by 37 survivors now scattered across refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Report includes map, should present the best evidence pretty clearly - I'll see if it's any better than I suspect
Associated Press
"The massacre was part of a streak of violence that started before dawn two days earlier, when Rohingya insurgents staged an unprecedented wave of 30 attacks on security posts across Rakhine state. At least 14 people were killed."

Wahabbi-inspired Islamist militants are active in the area. Previously in Yugoslavia, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, wherever the headchoppers pop up, they allege the regime they're up against is head-shopping brutal, sowing sectarian discord, conducting massacres, rape and kidnappings, torture and mutilation, and especially visiting this on harmless children -  besides trying to coldly blame it all on the Islamist freedom fighters they call "terrorists." It's as if no matter the culture or anything, every enemy of theirs winds up being a front for satan himself.

Or as it actually seems on closer study, the Islamists are the nasty ones committing these atrocities and fobbing it off on whoever they're fighting. Would it be so surprising if it were the same in Myanmanr?

But many people truly don't get that still, so here's a little review.

The Houla Massacre Precedent
On first look, this story reminded me a lot of alleged regime massacres in Syria, and notably the Houla Massacre of May 25, 2012. The story of government forces and Alawite militias butchering entire Sunni families was accepted instantly with no proof, and used to expel Syria's diplomats and increase the arming of opposition forces to topple Syria's government (forces which soon branched off ISIS as the one faction not quite "moderate" enough to openly support).

The roughly 106 people killed, including around 50 children, were quite real, but still that was the epitome of fake news of the sort that's caused the deaths of millions worldwide, just in recent years.  As usual for such false claims, this remains accepted by the numbed masses absorbing this deadly disinformation. The same will be soaking up this sordid tale from Myanmar in the same way. So my first question is what if this were like the Houla Massacre?

By May 25, 2012, the Al-Houla area was mostly reebel controlled, aside from the southern half of the village of Taldou, still held by five posts of the Syrian Arab Army. But this day Islamist opposition forces launched a pre-panned offensive with a reported 6-800 fighters who swarmed Taldou and pounded the security posts, starting at mid-day. This is supported by the video evidence, supplied by the opposition with too little redacted, as shown in my 2014 report The Battle for the Houla Massacre (PDF) Soldiers were killed, fled, or were captured. The northern two posts were overrun by sunset, as even the UN's "independent" Commission of Inquiry confirmed (white posts, quotes from UN CoI report). 

But the video evidence itself proves the gains more fully - even the orange posts didn't all hold. Video adds that the arches post was overrun or circumvented, and the hospital was overrun and set on fire, as the government had claimed. The more fortified post on a hill south of town was fired on with RPGs, but everyone agrees it remained in government hands, but it was too far away to directly matter. Now look at these reddish dots where people were killed - areas of fresh and exciting access to the Islamists. Is that a coincidence?

This victory in "liberating freedom square" (the central security post) was not openly reported, but it happened and gave the "FSA" and allies (Jabhat Al-Nusra?) access to just the place where whole families were killed. The pro-government witnesses, who reported this rebel assault the rebel side denies, say some of the victims were pro-government Sunnis, but mainly an extended Abdulrazaq family who converted to Shia Islam. I count 85 or more of the roughly 110 victim in that clan (see here). It was targeted, not random. Children's faces were hacked open, and it's likely women were raped. An off-duty soldier with a broken leg had his eyes gouged out. At right, a room where some of the Abdulrazaqs were slaughtered. 

Islamist rebels somehow found the bodies and scooped them up to their mass grave, claiming pro-government "Shabiha" militia had killed them just for being random Sunnis, and just left the bodies behind. (Illogically, the UN investigation agreed this had nothing to with the day's rebel victory, which they insisted on falsely limiting). 

How to Spot a Questionable Massacre Story
The alleged witnesses who told us about the Shabiha killings in Houla - as with other alleged massacres in Syria - are mainly miracle survivors - usually a fighting age male who somehow hid over here while all his wife and children were murdered over there. Sometimes he saves one baby, for example, to be symbolic. Other times it's a poorly-coached child witness. (like confused little Ali Al-Sayed for Houla), or a veiled woman spouting vile sectarian rhetoric. The witness will give vague or randomly-chosen details, tend to "see everything" like an omniscient narrator, and will make political points, like emphasizing their total innocence vs. the demonic brutality of the targeted state.

This kind of witness survived the Houla Massacre in large numbers (see incomplete but huge ACLOS listing), swearing to the story we can be sure was false, and clashing with each other over the details of that story. To this day they remain accepted as the basis of official/accepted truth. I compiled this for fun from select quotes and the few who crack smiles while they tell the story. (All are alleged survivors, and just a small portion of the total presented)

And I bet we'll find the same here regarding the alleged Maung Nu Massacre. AP heard from 37 survivors? Well, naturally. An important alleged massacre like this deserves to be well-seen, and described many times, in different ways. So the Shabiha, or Yangon's soldiers bent on total annihilation, have to miss quite a few in such cases, hiding in places with good views to see the whole thing. 

If this were another in the tradition of Houla... The dead civilians would be really killed, and just as cruelly as they say - but they would be killed by the Islamists. A likely time and place - where enemy civilians live under government protection that's overturned by force: like the areas guarded by those soldiers attacked on August 25. In such a case, the killing will be done right after some of the posts were completely overrun. The victims would be whoever locally opposes their militancy - Buddhists, presumably, government loyalists, from the little I know. Or simply the nearest available heretics, enemies deemed fair game to kill and use as the militants please. (Clerics, mainly in the Persian Gulf, write up these rules. Sunni Muslims are the only ones off-limits, unless they support the government or otherwise step off the narrow path.)

The smaller number acknowledged as killed in the August 25 clashes would be either militants and/or acknowledged soldier deaths, with zero civilian victims reported at the time (some reports say 12 or 14 "people" were killed, while HRW cites a much higher number broken down by sides). The rebels would deny any massacre, insisting their religion (their only law) forbids it. It does allow lying to infidels, which is pretty much everyone. 

But that 82-100+ killed is likely to be an accurate number or range. The Islamists are proud of their work, the cruelty of it, and the scale of it. The true story will usually reflect in their false claims in these ways, with as little as possible changed - the perpetrators, the victims, and maybe the time or place, if necessary. Suspect a genuine massacre, again likely on August 25. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of boys vs. girls vs. women and men killed winds up matching as well between these two massacre stories.

You'd likely hear about the real massacre if it happened, depending how open the "regime" in question is. They might hush it up, or report the other story of how they say 82+ people were killed. I don't follow the news enough to know if they did ... until I checked (keep reading).

If this was another Houla ... the government would deny there was a massacre, or deny conducting one; if they decided there was one, they'd blame the militants. The Houla precedent (besides many other cases, of course) suggests they could be right.

If the Islamist claims are false, and even if they conceal and launder a genuine massacre by those Islamists, they'll be accepted anyway, if that helps the geopoloitical script move forward. It will stick through repetition because the blamed regime would be outside the fake news walls, where physical truth matters naught. All that matters is the accepted claims of championed activists, and the authority of those accepting them. It is, as some would call it, a "rigged system." 

So that's what we would see, at least in part, if this were the fake atrocity tale I suspect it is. And in fact, it seems this is exactly what we see behind the Maung Nu massacre, if we give it even a little examination. (Even more study will show how well it keeps seeming that way, but this will take some time).

Myanmar Officials Deny Massacre Claims ...
and Lodge their Own...
and Show the Bodies...
and Explain the Truth Behind Maung Nu?
What do the demonized officials say? Looking back into it, they are quite specific and strong on the claims, even if they don't yet realize it. I need to check, but I presume they deny the August 27 massacre (sources... ). But most interestingly, there's an implicit denial in the prior floating of another massacre that seems a likely contender to physically replace theirs - the ultimate refutation.

Myanmar's authorities had already claimed a mass killing of civilians of the same basic size and hideous nature, or would claim it when the evidence emerged (timeline ...). They're claiming Hindus, not Buddhists, were the targets, and local Hindus all seem to agree (they're a minority in this area near the border with Bangladesh.) As I suspected, the event they speak of was two days earlier, seemingly committed by Rohingyan forces (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army - ARSA) in the area they just took over on August 25. 

--(raw sources, partial, with notes, perhaps to be written up more)--
Western media reports passed along the claims by locals, survivors, and Myanmar officials, as it came together about a month later. But these tend to include suggestions the story is false, as it fits the government's narrative. Reuter reporter Soe Zeya Tun said the massacre only attested to the brutality of "Myanmar's conflict," not of any one side or party - and "everyone knows" the regime is generally to blame for the conflict. Tun also referred to the reports of ARSA blame as "accusations" that were flying. Well, okay but they have a ton of evidence backing them, and are countered only by "The ARSA has denied killing the Hindus saying they never kill civilians." Because Islam forbids it, right? 

It was "hours" after the militant attacks on army posts that "insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) came to the Hindu village of Ye Baw Kya, gathered up about 100 people, marched them away through their fields and killed them with knives, the government says." 

Some were pressed to give false stories, and here it gets very interesting:
"In late August, Reuters reporters in Bangladesh interviewed a group of Hindu women from the village who said their male loved ones were killed by Rakhine Buddhists." "However, three of the same women told Reuters this week that Muslims who brought them to Bangladesh had ordered them to say it was Buddhist vigilantes who had done the killing."
Those reporters also didn't hear those women were there as "wives" of the Islamists who gave them this illogical story. The Reuters report credits their new story in a creditable manner. This is worth reading:
"The three – who individually recounted closely matching stories – said that on Aug. 25, they and about 100 other Hindus were marched by masked men to the area of the mass graves.
They were later able to identify some of the masked men as Rohingya Muslims, although the women said the men spoke several languages they could not identify, besides the dialect spoken by both Muslims and Hindus in the area." 
“We watched as they tied each person, hands behind their back and also legs ... They cut all their throats and pushed them into a hole,” said one of the women, Bina Bala, 22, adding that the women were spared after promising to convert to Islam." 

The hospital superintendent who examined the bodies agreed with the women on how they were killed, as they independently agreed with each other. As we hear, they described where the bodies would be found, and where they were found. There were several holes, but that story of "a hole" probably referred to one sub-set of the killings. They also describe foreigners helping in the Islamist fight and massacres, another feature shared with Syria and its many massacres. This is all some pretty damning testimony.

By AFP - September 28, 2017 @ 1:21am
"MAUNGDAW, Myanmar: Rohingya militants on Wednesday denied the Myanmar army’s allegations that they had massacred scores of Hindu villagers, whose bodies soldiers displayed to the press after exhuming them from mass graves in northern Rakhine state.
On Wednesday the army flew journalists to an area where the mass graves of 45 Hindu villagers, including many women and children, were discovered earlier this week.
The military has accused Rohingya militants of carrying on the massacre on August 25, the same day the group staged deadly raids on police posts that sparked the military backlash.
In its first official statement on the allegations, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) “categorically” denied that its members “perpetrated murder, sexual violence, or forcible recruitment” in the area on 25 August."

Read: all those have been alleged, probably based on solid evidence, and they probably did all those things.

They called on the army to stop “victim-blaming,” according to the statement, which was posted on the ARSA’s Twitter account.
It used an apparent local name – “Fakirabazar” – for the Kha Maung Seik village tract where the mass graves were found, in the statement posted on Twitter Wednesday.
The decomposing skeletal bodies remained laid out in rows on a grassy field outside the village of Ye Baw Kyaw as distraught relatives wailed, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
Security officers are still searching for 48 missing Hindus who relatives fear are dead.
Hindus who fled the area have told AFP that masked men stormed into their community that day and hacked victims to death with machetes before dumping them into freshly-dug pits.
Ni Maul, a Hindu leader who has helped authorities with the search, told media on the army-led press trip that they found the burial sites using testimony from eight Hindu women who were spared and brought to Bangladesh after they agreed to convert to Islam. “They kept the beautiful eight women alive to marry,” he said.

Women will be defined maybe 13 and up, or maybe younger yet, by Islamist standards. They claim in general, government forces routinely rape Rohingya girls as young as 13. I suspect it goes younger, but the Islamists don't want to admit that, even through their enemies. Their logic is not normal. Consider how they botched this massacre-abduction raid on Kha Maung Seik:

Four Hindu women displaced in Bangladesh told AFP they were among the eight who escaped the massacre in the same area of Kha Maung Seik, with eight children in tow.
“We begged for our lives, asking they spare the women,” 22-year-old Bina Sheel told AFP at a small village for Hindu refugees in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar.
“They asked if we would marry them. We said yes, to save our lives.”
All four women said they were taken to Rohingya Muslim camps inside Bangladesh by the attackers. Sheel said her captor urged her to convert to Islam before she was brought to the Hindu village by a local leader.

Now consider rebels deny killing or attacking anyone, but they wound up with 8 "wives" from these same villages in camp with them in Bangladesh, pressed to blame Buddhist gangs for killing their original husbands. So everyone agrees their husbands were recently killed, as they now hang out in camps with Rohingya, and someone noticed the recent marriages. Hm, that would not add up. Apparently someone stepped in at the samp, and the marriages were split up. Once set free, and prepared to testify, the women say it was the Islamists who widowed them and tried to keep them, and made them lie.

The guys involved will have no good explanation how they got hold of those young widows. This was their big mistake ARSA may now order everyone to avoid: all "wives" must die by the next night. "Don't trust their "conversion" just because you're horny, of soft-hearted." Sorry, but that's just likely to happen now whether I say it or not. They're waging a jihad here, not running a disco club party. The best solution to protect people is probably to eradicate these cancerous militants. Kick arse, guys.

Am I getting ahead of myself here? Perhaps.

There's also a Wikipedia page for Kha Maung Seik massacre. That has a location given I'm using to map this story. Between the area and the different names given for each of a few town involved, I found a rare Wikimapia label I could identify as the basic area of the mass graves found (see below).

From this well-done article:
One of the eight abducted Hindu women taken into Bangladesh called up a Hindu community leader in Myanmar and told him about the massacre and the location of the mass graves.[14][15][7] Accordingly, the local Hindu leadership prepared a list, where 102 Hindus were identified as missing from the two villages of Ye Baw Kya and Taung Ywar in the Kha Maung Seik area of Maungdaw District.[16] Based on the information, the Myanmar army discovered two mud pits with 28 Hindu corpses outside the village of Ye Baw Kya on 24 September.[16] The victims included 20 women and eight men and children.[17] On 25 September, the search party consisting of the Myanmar army, the police and local Hindu leader discovered 17 Hindu corpses in another two mud pits 400 metres to the north east of the previously discovered mass graves.[14] According to the Hindu leader, the corpses were of men aged between 30 and 50.[16] The local Hindu leadership continued their search for the remaining corpses of the missing Hindus, who are feared dead.[16]
An alleged Rohingya insurgent, along with his supporters at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, accused the Rakhine Buddhists of the Hindu massacre and putting the blame on Rohingya Muslims.[4]
Was that one of the guys at the camp who had his stolen widower "wife" falsely tell the same story? Yeah, probably. But now they may have a different story that no Hindus were killed, and that was just the Maung Nu Massacre recycled to blame the other side, as I'll explain. That would be both ironic and necessary, considering...

Is Maung Nu Just this Massacre of Hindus Recycled?
Finally, this is the question I'm driving at. For years, Rohingya proponents have used false and recycled images from all over the world to document alleged regime crimes ... that seemed to be somewhat lacking in real evidence. The BBC noted this fairly well in 2015 in what seems like limited hangout, promoting the general repression narrative anyway. A Dhaka Tribune piece showed this continuing in 2017.

Here we may have a more serious turn - recycling actual massacres they create.

-- extra sloppy part still to re-hash--...and between them, witnesses and alleged survivors, the numbers killed and kept as "brides" add up to about the same things, with just the killers, the date, and the locale disputed.

Kha Maung Seik: 48+45 = 93 - around one hundred total were said by some to be taken, a list has 102 missing, perhaps before the 16 survivors were found (8 women converted and taken as "brides" and 8 children) = perhaps 118 taken, and up to 102 killed, or if 102 total, 86 remained unclear, likely dead. Compare:

Maung Nu: at least 82 killed, bodies and some captives taken away, perhaps over 100 total - some women raped or fondled but spared - etc. (more detailed comparison in time).

ARSA calls this a lie, as they claim a massacre the same size and character was committed against them 2 days later - with no evidence, no mass graves or anything to show except that the village was burned - to conceal the lack of evidence, perhaps. Or because it was burned in retaliation. That could be. Why 2 contested massacres of the same size should exist so close in time and space makes no sense - one is almost surely real, and the other a false version of it ... btw the earlier story has the better chance of being the true one - it's easier to hatch a story sized to a real crime after the fact than to prdict it in advance. Also the one with bodies to show is more credible. This is the government story - implied if not spoken yet. 

HRW and the rest are presuming it's two massacres, one of which they didn't report on now, maybe to avoid confusing the picture of state repression ... as they likely DID REPORT IT ANYWAY, LAUNDERED AS THE NON-EXISTENT MASSACRE THEY'RE SO EAGER TO CONDEMN. Why do they ignore the credible one and promote the one coming from deceitful Islamists like ARSA? Because Myanmar's government is in truth exile to the Western establishment, like the leadership of Syria, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Lebanon, Yemen and like half the world, pretty much.

On first look, I'm impressed with how well the government and locals' story seems to explain the events reported by the Islamists and their enablers. Yet it seems this has had no effect on the regime-change propaganda machine exemplified by Ken Roth's Human Rights Watch. (see also here for someone perplexed that Suu Kyi would question the evidence for these massacres). This had suggests they are outside the walls in truth exile, relegated to have their reality on the ground denied like Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and so many other places have had. 

a well-illustrated and logical massacre with bodies and stories all lining up - replaced with an alleged one with no proof - the villages were burned is the best proof HRW could find (is it?) - could be burned after forced flight - gov. management of the land suggests maybe they don't want them back. Retribution I would condemn, but that's not the same as the brutal massacres they're accused of, that are actually being done by some nasty characters among the Rohingya, including foreign fighters.

Further, villagers may have been made to play refugee and add to the crisis, by ARSA militants, who then burned the village to create the picture of repression or hiding evidence. Burning could also conceal any total lack of evidence in the village. 
Why Launder?
But why would they launch claims so similar to their own crimes and risk drawing attention back to a problematic episode?
It took a few seconds to realize why: they already have the bodies of the real crime found, survivors talking, all lining up quite well as we've seen, trials pending, and a possible huge problem. Their answer in advance, presumably the original idea that they're now locked into and will have to follow: "that's the Maung Nu massacre, laundered by the regime!"

Claims are the same number killed in Maung Nu and (I think) trucked away to who knows where. So far they have no bodies for the claim, compared to the other side (or didn't someone claim to see bodies left in a pit? - I need to catch up on possible contradictions). Now they might say "Ah, that's where they took them..." near those raided Hindu villages, so the regime and Hindu witnesses and community leaders can conspire to pretend the victims were Hindus and engage in "victim blaming." It seems they've done a convincing job to start, and that will take some forgetting or erasing (not much, sadly). Human Rights Watch is there to help, along with so many other helpful warmongers and lie-peddlers, soaked in blood but well-paid and widely believed.

Further Investigation...
This is a downer story, sorry. But reality needs to be faced before it can be changed, right? So we're on the right track, at least to stop and ask the questions I'm raising here. 

I don't step into new countries lightly, but this I will do - I'm pressed for time lately, so it may be slow - comments are open - and I may start an ACLOS page - and/or a Twitter thread ... I don't intend to go crazy on the details, just see what's available and how it seems to best fit together. 3 day weekend and I don't do much for Christmas. Something, but not much.

projects: map alleged 8-27 massacre site (militant base village?), locale of 30 bases attacks (general or specific), location of allegedly raided villages of 8-25 and mass grave(s). Partly done - see below.

Ideally I or someone should gather media reports of what the alleged witnesses say about Maung Nu, and collate the details for comparison, internally and relative to the opposing story. This is the kind of thing best done at A Closer Look On Syria, in wiki format. It's in our scope. I or someone might start that soon.

<add 12-24>ACLOS page: Maung Nu Massacre. So far it's barely filled-in, focusing on new things rather than copying over. The reports timeline (section) is new and already pretty interesting. <end 12-24>

Questions I haven't looked into yet include: 

what was reported on August 27? Was the story to launder their August 25 massacre hatched that early, or later? <12-24>The first clear story emerged by a report of September 16, but had the date different - massacre on August 25. First version with current accepted date was on October 4. See ACLOS.<12-24>
* Other specific questions will arise...
Attacked Hindu village: Ye Baw Kya (also known as Riktapara), Ye Baw Kya and Taung Ywar
mass grave found: local name “Fakirabazar” – for the Kha Maung Seik village tract where the mass graves were found - near the village of Ye Baw Kyaw - also known as Fwaira Bazar or Fakira Bazar
FOIRA BAZAR WALIDONG on Wikimapia. It's a tentative ID but right where the Wikipedia article has it pinned, and I put that below.
Alleged Rohingya massacre: Maung Nu (known locally as Monu Para) and nearby Hpaung Taw Pyin (known locally as Pondu Para), nearby battalion 564 base. HRW gives a satellite view - I could find the base labeled and recognize the area. Maung Nu was unmarked at the moment, with surrounding areas just marked as burned areas. They map out like this:

Therefore, the real massacre and the fake one (whichever one considers which) happened about 45 km apart and are not the result of natural confusion.

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