Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Burmese army admits to killing Rohingya

Burmese army admits to killing Rohingya

More than 600,000 Rohingya, who are not recognised by the Myanmar government as one of the country's many ethnic groups, have fled to Bangladesh since August past year, when violence between armed Rohingya and Myanmar security forces prompted a severe crackdown.

Myanmar's armed forces have for decades been accused by human rights groups and Western governments of abuses in the country's myriad ethnic conflicts, but it has been rare for soldiers to be held accountable.

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".

Myanmar's admission that soldiers were involved in the murder of 10 Muslims in September was an important step and the United States hoped it would be followed by more transparency and accountability, the US ambassador said on Thursday.

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On Wednesday, it admitted that ethnic Rakhine villagers and security forces killed the 10 Royingya Muslims in the village on September 2 past year.

Last month Doctors Without Borders said at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of the army crackdown on rebels in Rakhine - the highest estimated death toll yet of violence that erupted on August 25.

Security forces had been conducting a "clearance operation" in the area on Sept 1 when "200 Bengali terrorists attacked using sticks and swords", the military said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of its commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

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.

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Myanmar insists that the Rohingya minority are illegal migrants from Bangladesh, hence the references to "Bengalis" in official statements.

The 10 bodies were found in December in a mass grave near a cemetery in Inn Din village.

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. Then members of the security forces shot them dead, the military said.

Its military's statement comes after a long denial of mischief towards the minority.

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"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", the rights group said in a statement.

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