Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Burmese army admits to killing Rohingya

T181302Z_1975931627_RC1B862BD000_RTRMADP_3_MYANMAR-ROHINGYA-BANGLADESH-940x580 Myanmar: Military's mass grave admission exposes extrajudicial killings of Rohingya
Ellis Copeland | 12 January, 2018, 15:50

Bangkok, Jan 12 Japanese's foreign minister today urged Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to guarantee the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in troubled Rakhine state.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo covered the unrest in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine state, where some 655,000 Rohingyas have been forced to flee into Bangladesh to escape a scorched earth campaign against them by military forces.

Until now, however, security forces have denied any accusations of guilt.

The European Union and representatives of Muslim nations renewed calls for a broader global investigation into violence in the western state of Rakhine, after the military said on Wednesday its soldiers had killed 10 captured Rohingya Muslim "terrorists" at the beginning of September.

"Villagers and members of the security forces have confessed that they committed murder", the military said in a statement on Wednesday.

The military said legal action would be taken against members of the security forces who violated their rules of engagement in killing the 10 suspected insurgents, and against ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers who were also involved.

In a statement, the military said that due to the fighting they could not transport the men so the detainees were executed by soldiers and local villagers instead of being handed over to police.

Myanmar has been accused of blocking journalists from traveling independently to Rakhine to look first-hand at the crackdown, and to verify refugees' claims of murder, mass rape and burning of villages by security forces.

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The remains of the victims were found buried in the mass grave in December.

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. It comes as two reporters for Reuters news agency face trial for receiving secret documents reportedly related to the massacre.

Much of Myanmar's Buddhist-majority population supports the army in what it calls a justified campaign against Rohingya militants, after their attacks on border guard police killed about a dozen people last August. Then members of the security forces shot them dead, the military said.

However, Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, cautioned: "the full extent of the violations and crimes [.] will not be known until the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission and other independent observers are given unfettered access to Myanmar".

Ten of the attackers were captured after the security forces drove the rest off by firing into the air, according to the statement on Facebook, which the military often uses to make announcements. "Such behaviour shows a contempt for human life which is simply beyond comprehension", he said.

Amnesty called on the United Nations to allow a fact-finding mission to uncover the "full extent of the violations".

A few months ago, Ms Lee had sharply criticised the Myanmar government right's record and its treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority, to which the government in Myanmar responded by labelling her statement as "biased and unfair".

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