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Myanmar Military Admits to Killing 10 Rohingya Found in Mass Grave

  • VOA News

FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2017, photo, Rohingya Muslim children, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, play on a bridge made by bamboos at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh.

In a rare admission of guilt, Myanmar's military says its security forces were responsible for the deaths of 10 Rohingya found in a mass grave.

Myanmar's Defense Ministry Information office released a statement Wednesday stating its forces had killed 10 suspected terrorists whose remains were found in a mass grave in Inn Din village of Maung Daw Township in the Northern Rakhine State.

The Defense Ministry said it will take action against the perpetrators involved in those killings and those in charge of security forces in the Rakhine State.

The 10 suspected terrorists were arrested following clashes with security forces last September, according to the military statement, which added security forces decided to execute them due to a lack of security and man power at the time.

Min Lwin Oo, legal adviser for Asian Human Rights Commission, told VOA Burmese there is a precedent for security forces committing crimes against ethnic minorities and denying any wrongdoing. But now that the crisis in Rakhine has caught international attention, the military cannot continue to ignore such cases.

If vigilantes and security forces premeditated these killings, they could face death sentences under current criminal laws, Lawyer Network spokesperson Thein Than Oo told VOA Burmese.

An aerial view of a burned Rohingya village near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar Sept. 27, 2017.
An aerial view of a burned Rohingya village near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar Sept. 27, 2017.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International demanded Wednesday that all security forces accused of killing Rohingya be brought to justice.

“This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army’s policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing," James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said. "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 from Rakhine State since last August."

VOA's Burmese Service contributed to this story.