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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tula Toli Massacre: Where is Wet Kyein?

Tula Toli Massacre: Where is Wet Kyein?
January 1, 2018
edits: January 2, 6...

I'm considering all the available evidence for the massive alleged Tula Toli massacre of 500-2,000 innocent Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar's genocidal security forces and bloodthirsty Buddhist mobs. But I'm doing it in (relatively) bite-sized pieces, including this one.

Tula Toli Location - on Wikimapia, as shown below - right between Kha Maung Seik and Maung Nu, the massacres that might be the same  (16 km south of Kha Maung Seik, 30 km nw of Maung Nu). This massacre is clearly separate, with a different story and alleged death toll several times as big as both of those combined. 

Frontier Myanmar reported "one villager in Bangladesh told Frontier that it had been home to about 300 families, of which 60 had been Rakhine (mainly Buddhist) and the rest Muslim." Perhaps the Rakhine families lived in the south part of the town, in the southern area here labeled as a part of Min Gyi? (bottom edge of above map)

If so, Human Right Watch refers to the same area in their December report, but as a separate town: "Wet Kyein, an ethnic Rakhine village with a population estimated at 350 people, abuts (Tula Toli) to the south." 60 families, 6 per family, would be about 350 - they're the same size. Part of Min Gyi, or its own village, satellite images are clear that area is un-burnt. This is labeled "Rakhine village" on HRW's map showing Tula Toli, and its sister city Dual Toli across the river, mostly burnt.

HRW: "A river divides Tula Toli and another Rohingya village known locally as Dual Toli, which is located on the eastern side of the river." If there's a proper name for this town, they don't give it. Tula Toli is also known as Min Gyi, but the AKA for its sister city is MIA. The latter has this story in the report:

On the morning of August 28, Burmese security forces headed toward the hamlet of Dual Toli, located across the river from Tula Toli. According to Hamid Musaem, a 29-year-old day laborer from Dual Toli, a village leader asked about 100 young Rohingya men from the village to gather at the entrance of the village to try and persuade the army not to attack them.[17] The Rohingya men were unarmed, aside from a few bamboo poles some had brought.[18]

Musaem said that as the soldiers approached they immediately began firing on the men, fatally shooting Mohammed Salim, 23, in the back as he ran away.[19] The panicked villagers fled the village after the shooting, crossing the river by boat and by swimming to Tula Toli, which they thought would be safe.

So by this, lightly-armed Rohingya and the army were both present. That might be close to true. The story then is the village was burnt that day, by the victorious army, and residents fled, mainly across the river to swell the population of Tula Toli ahead of the immense massacre of people from both towns there two days later. 

The Guardian heard the same in September: 

A day before the attack, people from a village across the river called Dual Toli swam over to escape the army. More than 10 died in the river, according to Petam Ali, who sheltered some of the displaced in his family home. They watched their village burn from across the river.

But there's disagreement. Wikimapia's current labels (see top map) call that place not Dual Toli, but Wet Kyein. Both names could be accurate names for the same place (one official, one local), but it can't be in two places. HRW says Wet Kyein is a Rakhine Buddhist village to the south. Wikimapia says it's in the same place HRW calls Dual Toli, a Rohingya village. So what's wrong there? 

About the Wikimapia labels; the Tula Toli labels were added "three months ago" in late December, so at about the time Amnesty published its ssatellite views report (September 16). The current Wet Kyein (destroyed) label was added in same time, with nothing marked previously. The southern Min Gyi label has the longest history: it was marked "Wet Kyein (Pig Hole) Village" 9 years ago and stayed that way until recently. It might have been what HRW cited, if they were doing that research months ahead of the report's publication. But then it was edited (by the same user as the others) at the same time to say Min Gyi, since Wet Kyein was over there, across the river to the northeast. 

That older label might seem the more credible, when the basis of the changes are unclear and perhaps misinformed. A source is cited, that doesn't explain, but does link to the likely source in Amnesty International's satellite images. They disagree with HRW, labeling the same area Wet Kyein, not Dual Toli. (see above link, or October report, page 30 - from the latter: 

"Similarly, in before and after satellite images from Wet Kyein village, Maungdaw Township, it is possible to see large areas of healthy vegetation between different groups of homes and other structures that have been completely burned down. These fires were distinct events; the perpetrators made a deliberate effort to burn down separated structures." 

This agrees on the name and locale - it might also be called Dual Toli (no local name is given), but they call it Wet Kyein, and found many homes burnt prior to Sept. 16. So they agree with HRW on that, and implicitly on it being a Rohingya town, with people freely escaping back and forth between them. But the esteemed human rights groups disagree on the name, and one name in contention is linked to a Rakhine Buddhist village, not a Rohingya one. So what part of that is wrong? 

Myanmar's government would deny the massacre at Tula Toli and the burning of Dual Toli/Wet Kyein. In fact, they specify Rohngya militants of ARSA attacked the latter. I don't know their full take, but here's part of what they say about events in "Wetkyein" (AI and Frontier Myanmar take this as a reference to the same contested village and/or put it in the area):
August 26 Facebook post: "Extremist Bengali terrorists destroyed the deserted Wetkyein police outpost at 7:16 pm."
August 28 Facebook post: "At 9.25 am today, extremist Bengali terrorists set 30 houses from Upper Pyuma (Na Ta La) Village and 30 more houses from Wetkyein (Mro) Village on fire. ...At noon, around 50 extremist Bengali terrorists from Kyetkyein Village went to the south of Wetkyein Pagoda, and around 100 extremist Bengali terrorists from Padeka Village to Myingyimyauk Village." (unclear if Wetkyein is the same w/"Pagoda" attached, and Myingyimyauk could mean Min Gyi, aka Tula Toli)

"Wetkyein (Mro) Village." Wikipedia lists Mro as an ethnic subgroup of the Chin and/or Rhakine ethnicities, and it would be the latter here in Rakhine state. - so likely Buddhist, as HRW heard. They don't show where it is on the map, but the place HRW called Wet Kyein was never burnt, so either the government lies, or they refer to the place across the river.

In fact, from AI report: "Myanmar authorities have alleged that ... on 26 August ARSA destroyed a deserted police outpost in Wet Kyein, across the river from Min Gyi, and that fighting continued nearby through 29 August." But that could be AI's wrong placement attached to a place authorities just named. (I have a request in on Facebook for the Myamnar information ministry's clear take on this).  

From the same report, witnesses: some told AI they were able "to survive by jumping in and swimming across to the village of Wet Kyein." So apparently, we have this:

- AI's witnesses (October), the government, and some logic says Wet Kyein is across the river and was burned
- The Guardian's sources (September) and HRW's (December), and a prior Wikimapia label, say it's a different place south of Tula Toli, that was not burned.
- HRW and the government agree Wet Kyein is a Rakhine Buddhist town,
- Amnesty and witnesses they relied on suggest it's the same friendly Rohingya Muslim town HRW calls Dual Toli.

And I'll suggest this version: Wet Kyein is a Buddhist village across the river, that ARSA raided and torched on the 28th, and perhaps burned more fully on a later day prior to September 16 (where we see far more than 30 homes burned - the whole village seems gray and gone). At first they tried to claim it as a Rohingya town under its own name, then later changed the name to Dual Toli and placed the name on another Buddhist area that wasn't burned (and where someone had already put the label once).

That prior label southwest of Tula Toli is a moderate problem with this otherwise logical proposition. It might be a coincidental error, or maybe that really is the place like HRW says, and AI was wrong, and the Myanmar authorities were wrong to say it was burned. But I still lean the other way, and suspect we have a sloppy effort to launder an Islamist crime as part of the fake government genocide story they're currently selling wholesale.  

And I can add this: I have a post forthcoming (Jan. 2, now online) analyzing three videos that claim to show aspects of the Tula Toli massacre. All three are filmed from the opposite shore, or in the area of this disputed village. One (included around 7:00 in this BBC Newsnight episode) shows some young children washing up dead. Anoura Begum, who managed to escape along with her husband and all four children, described for the program how she "watched the bodies of her neighbor's children wash up on the river bank" (someone else shot the video). She says there were 12 of them, all from that same family, and gives Arabic-Rohingya-sounding names. But that can all be made up.

These floated over, allegedly, after being killed and tossed in the river from the Tula Toli side (this is clearly the other side). But they would not float straight across like that considering the river current, so perhaps these kids were dropped in from further upstream, or just dropped in the shallows on this same side off-camera, and then just scooped back up on-camera. That could mean they came not from Tula Toli, but from the disputed village of Dual Toli or Wet Kyein. Their facial features don't seem clear enough to say much, but these children (the three shown) also seem abnormally pale for "Bengali" Rohingya kids, and arguably look more like ethnic Rakhine children. In one version, that's just who lived in the burned homes just meters away. Hm. 

It's said a bunch of others had crossed over from here on the 28th (as hostages?), to die along with others in Tula Toli on the 30th. We hope this part of the story was totally made up, but facts remain unclear... the absence of mass graves isn't yet proven. All we can say is no murders or graves right on the shore were seen on video (see video analysis).

Updates Jan. 6:
It's Human Rights Watch who were handed wrong info about this town. I didn't get a response to my Facebook comment request to Myanmar's information ministry (little surprise). But I think I found adequate clarification. First, a text source I found adds some context, from a year ago, December 2016 (the story itself is interesting so I'll include a big chunk, but you can skip this)
A third Muslim man whom the Myanmar government said had worked closely with local administrative officials in restive northern Rakhine state has been found dead in violence-ridden Maungdaw township, the State Counselor’s Office announced on Wednesday 
Authorities are investigating the murder of the man who was a former ward administrator in Badakar village and had been working with local authorities on regional development activities, the announcement said. 
The death is the third to have occurred in the past week of local Muslims who are said to have collaborated with authorities as they continue to try to round up “militants” who raided three border guard stations on Oct. 9 and killed nine officers. 
The body of the man, identified as Sirazuhut from Wet Kyein village in northern Rakhine, was reportedly found Monday near a creek that runs between Wat Kyien and Badakar in Maungdaw—an area inhabited primarily by Myanmar’s stateless Rohingya Muslim minority—according to Myanmar media reports. He had been missing since Dec. 16.

So at least some Muslims live in or are from Wet Kyein. One was a Muslim willing to work with the authorities in their efforts to counter the last Rohingya insurgency, but he was apparently killed by the insurgents. He was an administrator in Badakar, which is next to or near Wet Kyein, with a "creek" and probably not the river, running "between" them where his body was found. With this added detail, I  looked for maps detailed enough to include these villages to see what they're called. I found 1.5 examples that did that.

A US Army map from 1955 or 56 (NF 46-10 Series U542) of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, has enormous resolution in a University of Texas hosting. Below is a crop on the area of interest, near the lower right corner. This shows the river bend - drawn rounder or maybe it was rounder then - with "Tulatuli" in the familiar boxed-in spot on the west bank, in the north part of that area (the name seems to refer to the area, and not a particular black dot - or which dot is unclear, and a lot of very tiny villages are marked). Wetkyein is shown not southwest but across the river, if further south than usual shown, or currently.

Wetkyein Daung is a bit further to the east - as noted at the bottom, Daung = hill/mountain. So that's two cases of that name appearing east of the river. Furthermore, there's not Badakar, but there's a Badaga to the north. I think this is it (there's a Fagira Bazar north that others call Fakira Bazar, so g = k, and the r might be silent). There's another small village, but also a creek or two, labeled between these towns, all on the east side of the river. 

That's one map. The 0.5 is from a Reliefweb map of flooding in 2015 shows this area and labels, but much less clearly. Below is a cropped section with a zoomed view. 60 years later, the picture is about the same, but you have to squint to see that Wet Kyein is probably where everyone but HRW has it, about where the US Army had Dungla - across the river northeast of Min Gyi aka Tula Toli, and a bit closer to Badakar/Badaga. 

So far I've seen nothing on any local, Rohingya alternate name for Wet Kyein aside from HRW's claim it was called Dual Toli. That remains possible, but clearly not trustworthy given the other map alterations they were handed. <end 1/6>

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