FBR Rohingya Team Completes First Mission Into Arakan State
4 October 2018
Arakan State, Burma
In August 2018, the newly-trained Free Burma Ranger Rohingya team completed their first mission to help the people and get the news out from their home of Arakan State, which the Burma Army heavily controls. The team crossed from Bangladesh into Burma amidst border patrols, Burma Army gunfire, and monsoon rains. Once on the Burma side, the rangers hiked for several hours through the night, finally taking refuge in an abandoned village.
During the next two weeks, the team based out of abandoned villages, gathering photos and videos of villages destroyed by the Burma Army during their “clearing operations” begun in August of 2017. At times, the rangers had to hide nearby to avoid Burma Army patrols in the areas they reconned.
Nearly one year later, many of the destroyed villages the rangers discovered and recorded were mostly overgrown by jungle vegetation. In this jungle environment, it does not take long for evidence of destruction to be swallowed by nature.
In one such village, Naribill Village, the school and mosque were destroyed along with the rest of the village. The rangers took photos and GPS coordinates of the school. Later, the team would use GPS grids and satellite images to pinpoint the mosque and the village. Looking at satellite images from the past two years at the same grid points shows the drastic change in the area.
They came across a school in Khulabill Village that the Burma Army had taken over to use as a makeshift base and camp. There are no children left there, having fled the Burma Army.
In this first mission, the rangers found and recorded evidence of seven burned down villages. A recent report from the United Nations identifies the actions of the Burma Army against the Rohingya people as genocide. The evidence from the rangers’ first mission provides further evidence to corroborate findings in that report.