Rakhine, May 29: The Myanmar military has committed fresh war crimes and other human rights violations in Rakhine State, according to evidence published by Amnesty International on Wednesday.
In a new report, 'No one can protect us': War crimes and abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amnesty shows how the Myanmar military have repeatedly killed and injured civilians in indiscriminate attacks since January this year. Military forces have carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as enforced disappearances.
The military operation is ongoing, raising the prospect of additional crimes being committed. Amnesty’s 46-page report examines the period of intense military operations that followed coordinated attacks on police posts by the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group, on January 4 this year. The new operation followed a government instruction to ‘crush’ the Arakan Army.
Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director for Southeast Asia at Amnesty International, said, "In less than two years since world outrage over the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population, the Myanmar military is again committing horrific abuses against ethnic groups in Rakhine State." "The new operations in Rakhine State show an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military terrorising civilians and committing widespread violations as a deliberate tactic.
Authorities are compounding the misery of civilians by blocking the supply of medicine, food and humanitarian relief to those in need, including children."
Amnesty’s report uncovers evidence of abuses committed by Myanmar troops, including specific divisions and battalions under the Western Command. Amnesty has further confirmed that newly-deployed units from the 22nd and 55th Light Infantry Divisions are responsible for many fresh violations.
Amnesty reviewed satellite imagery which confirmed the destruction of a building in Ywar Haung Taw village, as well as the presence of new artillery at the police base close by. While ethnic Rakhine communities have borne the brunt of violations committed by the Myanmar military recently, other communities, including the Rohingya, have also suffered.
On April 3, a military helicopter opened fire on Rohingya labourers cutting bamboo, killing at least six men and boys and injuring at least 13 others.
One survivor told Amnesty, "The helicopter came from behind the mountain. Within minutes it fired rockets. I was running for my life thinking about my family and how I would survive."
Amnesty further documented seven cases of arbitrary arrest in Rakhine State since January. These arrests were exclusively of men, usually ethnic Rakhine men of fighting age, and were often accompanied by torture and other ill-treatment aimed at obtaining information about the Arakan Army.
More than 30,000 people have been displaced in this latest violence. However, the Myanmar authorities have blocked humanitarian access to the affected areas.