World Bulletin / News Desk
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) said it would “defend, salvage and protect Rohingya… as we have the legitimate right under international law to defend ourselves in line with the principle of self-defense.”
The statement, which bore the group’s crossed Armalite rifle logo, declared its attacks had “only been aimed at the oppressive Burmese regime in accordance with international norms and principles”.
It also denied any ties to any terrorist group.
Anadolu Agency was unable to verify the origin of the statement.
ARSA claimed responsibility for the killing of nine police officers last October. They were killed at border posts in the Maungdaw area of Rakhine state, sparking a violent crackdown on Rohingya across the region.
Around 1.2 million Rohingya, described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, live in Rakhine, which lies along the border with Bangladesh and is also known as Arakan.
During the crackdown, the UN and rights groups documented widespread abuses by security forces such as killings -- including the deaths of children and babies -- gang rapes, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.
The government has said at least 106 people were killed during the operation but activists have said around 400 Rohingya were killed.
It has labelled ARSA a terrorist organization and has said its leader was trained by the Taliban and has links to foreign terror groups.
ARSA leader Ata Ullah, who signed the statement, denied the claims.
“We do not commit any form of terrorism against any civilian regardless of their religious and ethnic origin as we do not subscribe to the notion of committing terrorism for our legitimate cause,” the statement said.
The group called for peacekeeping troops to be sent to Rakhine to protect the Rohingya community from “genocide as well as crimes against humanity”.
The statement, which ended with a list of 20 demands, described the government of Aung San Suu Kyi as the “political hostages” of the military.