Myanmar admission soldiers killed Rohingya 'an important step'

Posted January 13, 2018

Myanmar's military acknowledged Wednesday that its security forces and Buddhist villagers killed 10 Rohingya Muslims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in a village in troubled Rakhine state. It comes as two reporters for Reuters news agency face trial for receiving secret documents reportedly related to the massacre.

A statement on the military commander-in-chief's Facebook page said the Rohingya found in the mass grave had threatened Buddhist villagers and were killed in retaliation.

The mass grave was discovered last month in cemetery in Inn Din village, about 30 miles north of the state capital Sittwe, prompting the military to open an investigation. According to the statement, there were "no conditions" to hand the ten captured "bengali terrorists" over to the police, so "it was chose to kill them".

Myanmar's government does not recognise the term "Rohingya", and insists that the minority are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

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It was a rare acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the Myanmar military during the operation it launched in northern Rakhine in response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25.

"Action will be taken against the villagers ... and the security force members who violated the rules of engagement according to the law", the statement said.

The Facebook statement goes on to say that the militant attacks had destroyed their military vehicles with explosives (despite having just noted that they were armed with melee weapons).

The head of Myanmar's government and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to recognize the crimes committed against the Rohingya people, denying charges of "ethnic cleansing".

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The villagers assisted in the execution, according to the statement, because they wanted revenge on the Rohingya militants who had killed their family members in the past.

Myanmar's military released a report in November saying an internal investigation had absolved its forces of wrongdoing including allegations of rape and killings.

The United Nations' top human rights official in September described the Myanmar army's crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim minority as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Human rights organization Amnesty International claimed the admission exposes the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, marking a "sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing".

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"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.