Myanmar soldiers confess to mass murder of Rohingya Muslims in new video: rights group

The footage of the soldiers would signify the primary admission by members of Myanmar’s navy {that a} marketing campaign of violence in opposition to the minority ethnic group befell in the nation’s western Rakhine State. That marketing campaign has beforehand been described by the United Nations and human rights organizations as having the “hallmarks of genocide.”

The video confessions of Private Myo Win Tun and Private Zaw Naing Tun had been filmed in July by the Arakan Army, a insurgent group at the moment in fight with the Myanmar navy, and launched by the non-government group Fortify Rights, which says it has analyzed the footage and located it to be credible.

“We destroyed the Muslim villages near Taung Bazar village. We implemented the clearance operations in the night-time as per the command to ‘shoot all that you see and that you hear.’ We buried a total number of 30 dead bodies in one grave,” mentioned Myo Win Tun in his video assertion.

CNN has not been in a position to independently verify the veracity of the video. It’s unclear if the boys made the video confessions beneath duress, after having been captured, or in the event that they surrendered as deserters.

The two soldiers are believed to now be in the Hague on the International Criminal Court the place an investigation into the Rohingya disaster is underway.

“This is a monumental moment for Rohingya and the people of Myanmar in their ongoing struggle for justice,” Matthew Smith, the chief govt officer of Fortify Rights, mentioned in a press release.

CNN has reached out to the Myanmar authorities and the Arakan Army for touch upon the movies and the admissions made by the 2 soldiers.

From 2016, there have been studies of a marketing campaign of mass violence by Myanmar’s navy in the nation’s Western Rakhine state, particularly concentrating on the Muslim minority Rohingya. More than 740,000 refugees poured across the border into Bangladesh, bringing with them allegations of indiscriminate killing, rape and property destruction.
The Myanmar authorities, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has vehemently denied the allegations, telling the International Court of Justice in December 2019 that the claims had been “incomplete and misleading.”

It maintains the “clearance operations” by the navy in Rakhine had been reliable counter-terrorism measures which started in response to a Rohingya assault on a border put up which killed 9 cops. Myanmar has denied allegations of brutality.

Myanmar considers the a million or so Rohingya as unlawful immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, although many Rohingya households have lived in Rakhine state for generations.

But a UN fact-finding fee described the violence in opposition to the Rohingya as “genocide.” Doctors Without Borders has estimated that a minimum of 6,700 Rohingya had been killed throughout the first month of the marketing campaign alone, together with 730 youngsters under the age of 5.

Admission of rape

In the 2 movies launched by Fortify Rights, filmed in opposition to a darkish inexperienced plastic sheet, the 2 uniformed males describe in a matter-of-fact manner how they got orders to kill all Rohingya villagers.

Myo Win Tun mentioned that he was despatched on an evening raid of a Muslim village in Buthidaung Township in August 2017, the place officers advised him to kill everybody in order to make sure that the Rohingya “race will be exterminated.”

After destroying the primary village, the soldier mentioned his unit of 10 then stayed in the realm for 2 weeks, razing different close by settlements. “We buried a total of 30 dead bodies in one grave … eight women, seven children, 15 men and elderly,” Myo Win Tun mentioned in the video.

He mentioned his unit raped girls earlier than taking pictures them and admits to raping one girl himself. “We shot and buried people in village after village. It would be around 60 to 70 people in total,” Myo Win Tun mentioned.

In Zaw Naing Tun’s video, he admitted to working with the 353th Light Infantry Battalion to wipe out “about 20 Muslim villages.” “We shot dead and wiped them out according to the order to kill all, irrespective of children or adults,” he mentioned in the video.

Zaw Naing Tun mentioned that they had buried about 80 Muslim villagers in mass graves, stealing cash, gold and cell phones from their outlets and homes after killing them, amongst different gadgets. He additionally mentioned he stood watch whereas his superiors raped girls.

No member of the Myanmar navy has beforehand admitted to widespread violence in opposition to the Rohingya in Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017. Very few members of the navy have been prosecuted for killings in the area — seven soldiers had been imprisoned in Myanmar in 2018 for a massacre at Inn Din village in Western Rakhine state, after it was uncovered by Reuters.
An investigation by Myanmar launched in January discovered that some struggle crimes had been dedicated in Rakhine state, nonetheless it added prosecutions had been ongoing and there was no “genocidal intent.”

International Criminal Court

Shortly after the alleged confessions had been filmed, the 2 soldiers appeared on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar in August.

Fortify Rights mentioned that it believes the 2 soldiers from the movies are actually in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Dutch metropolis of The Hague, doubtlessly opening the likelihood for his or her testimony to be used in a future case in opposition to the Myanmar authorities.

“These men could be the first perpetrators from Myanmar tried at the ICC, and the first insider witnesses in the custody of the court. We expect prompt action,” CEO Smith mentioned in a press release.

The ICC wouldn’t verify to CNN that Zaw Naing Tun and Myo Win Tun had been in custody.

“The ICC investigation is a confidential matter, all I can confirm is that two individuals appeared at a border post in Bangladesh, requested protection and confessed to mass murder and rape of Rohingya civilians during the 2017 clearance operations in Rakhine State,” mentioned Payam Akhavan, International authorized counsel for Bangladesh and a former UN prosecutor.

A still image of a video filmed by the Arakan Army in July with Myanmar Private Zaw Naing Tun.

“They claimed to have been members of the Myanmar military forces during that period and acting on orders from senior military commanders. Bangladesh informed the International Criminal Court, consistent with its obligations … I am not able to confirm either their identity or their location,” he mentioned.

One Rohingya nonetheless inside Rakhine state, who requested to use the pseudonym Edin Hussein to keep away from future persecution, mentioned that the movies had been an enormous growth which had made individuals “extremely happy.”

“We have no words to describe how much we are happy that the two former militaries will be in ICJ to confess all the atrocities committed against Rohingyas by (the Myanmar military),” he mentioned.

“Our people could not collect much evidence as they were shooting us on sight and most of our people rather had to flee and save life than facing the guns … Finally we see a hope that the genocidaires will get punished for their crimes.”

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