Myanmar's Suu Kyi says army admission on killings a positive step

Aaron Brown
January 14, 2018

The request comes after Myanmar military admitted that some of its soldiers were involved in the murder of 10 captured Rohingya men in western Rakhine state in September previous year and buried them in a mass grave near Inn Din village in Maungdaw township.

The military announced on Dec 18 that a mass grave containing 10 bodies had been found at the coastal village of Inn Din, about 50 km north of the state capital Sittwe.

But until now Myanmar authorities have only blamed Rohingya militants for causing a human catastrophe that has left 655,000 of the minority in squalid camps in Bangladesh.

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.

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. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing that could include "elements of genocide".

The plight of the Rohingya has received worldwide attention and led to the widespread condemnation of Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was previously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

"This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing", said James Gomez, Amnesty's regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, following the military's announcement.

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He tweeted "it may not be a coincidence" that this admission came on the same day as two Reuters journalists were formally charged by police in court with breaching a colonial-era secrecy law.

The pair - Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo - were taken into custody after being invited to dine with police officers on the outskirts of Myanmar's largest city, Yangon.

Inn Din, the site of the mass grave, was one of the hundreds of villages that was engulfed by violence during the August crackdown.

The charges against them have sparked outrage around the world with rights groups and diplomats calling for their immediate release.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, urged the Myanmar government to "get serious about accountability by allowing the United Nations appointed Fact Finding Commission to enter the country", in an email to dpa.

The reporters will return to court on January 23, when the bench will decide whether to accept the case.

The Tatmadaw, as the Burmese army is known, reported last month that it had recovered ten...

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