Myanmar army admits Rohingya killings

Myanmar army admits Rohingya killings

An internal military investigation in Myanmar found that Burmese soldiers and Buddhist local villagers were responsible for the murder of 10 captured Rohingya Muslims who were found buried in a mass grave in the western state of Rakhine.

The military said in a statement on the commander in chief's Facebook page that the attackers were from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the militant group blamed for attacks on police posts in August that prompted the crackdown that left thousands of Rohingya dead and more than 650,000 displaced.

"However, it is only the tip of the iceberg and warrants serious independent investigation into what other atrocities were committed", he said in a statement.

Relations between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims who lived in separate areas in the Inn Din village tract grew tense following deadly small-scale attacks by Muslim militants on border guard stations on October 9, 2016, which triggered a crackdown by security forces.

The same day, Rohingya "terrorists" captured and killed Maung Ni, an ethnic Rakhine resident of Inn Din village as he was on his way to farm, and other Rohingya began to threaten Rakhine villagers with sticks and swords, the statement said.

The military refers to members of the Rohingya Muslim minority as "Bengalis", a term the Rohingya reject as implying they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Inn Din villager Wal Marjan, 30, said they were attacked by Buddhist mobs flanked by soldiers, who later "selected 10 to 15 men to attend a meeting". They fired guns into the air, scaring off the group except for 10 who were arrested, it said.

Rohingya refugee children smile to the camera as they carry firewood at Palong Khali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on Jan 9, 2018.


"It was found that there were no conditions to transfer the 10 Bengali terrorists to the police station and so it was chose to kill them", the military said, referring to the findings of the investigating team.

The military denied all accusations of significant human rights abuses in a report released in November after an investigation.

The army chief's office said "action" would be taken against villagers and security members involved in the violence at Inn Din.

Mercado also pointed to "an acute level of fear between the Rakhine and Rohingya communities", recalling a story that parents in one Rohingya village said they hadn't had their children vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis because the government vaccinators were accompanied by security officers-while government workers said they dared not go to Rohingya communities without security.

Responding to the press release, Thein Than Oo, a founding member of the Myanmar Lawyers' Network, questioned the authenticity of the statement. "This is the first time".

Thein Than Oo said that in reality some security guards had probably committed the murders, so the incident is "not the entire military's fault".

The refugees, described by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted people, are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

"The military has rules of engagement", he said.

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