Wednesday 23 January 2019

Our soldiers massacred Rohingya - Myanmar

A Rohingya refugee child at a refugee camp in Thailand. Photo: Reuters
A Rohingya refugee child at a refugee camp in Thailand. Photo: Reuters

Nicola Smith

Myanmar has admitted its troops were involved in the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims who were found in a mass grave last month in the country's northern state of Rakhine, where its military has been accused of ethnic cleansing.

In a rare admission of guilt, the Defence Ministry released a statement on Facebook stating its forces had killed 10 suspected terrorists in the Inn Din village of Maung Daw on September 1.

"Action will be taken against the villagers who participated in the case and the members of security forces who broke the rules of engagement under the law," the statement said.

The military claimed they had rushed to Inn Din to protect frightened Buddhist villagers and had been attacked by "200 Bengalis" with sticks and swords, 10 of whom were arrested and accused of having links to terrorists.

As troops were over-stretched with trying to maintain peace "the decision was made to kill them at the cemetery" rather than hand them to the police.

Villagers had dug a pit and the men were ordered to enter it, where they were shot by the security forces.

Myanmar's military had denied any wrongdoing in the crackdown that began in late August and sparked a mass exodus of civilians across the border to Bangladesh.

Both the United Nations and US have stated that he military's action has amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in majority Buddhist Myanmar.

Late last year a Doctors Without Borders report said that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month alone.

The village of Inn Din previously featured in a chilling report by Amnesty International, which contains eyewitness accounts from seven villagers who described how vigilantes and the military looted and burned homes and shot people as they fled.

Satellite images obtained by the group show how an area of Rohingya homes were burned to the ground, while non-Rohingya areas appear to have been left untouched.

"This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing," said James Gomez, Amnesty's regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, following the military's announcement.

"However, it is only the tip of the iceberg and warrants serious independent investigation into what other atrocities were committed amid the ethnic cleansing campaign that has forced out more than 655,000 Rohingya from Rakhine State in August," he added.

Amnesty previously accused the Burmese military of committing "crimes against humanity" after the human rights group documented its targeted campaign of violence, including the mass murder of civilians and the widespread rape of Rohingya women and girls. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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