Myanmar Admission Soldiers Killed Rohingya 'an Important Step': US Envoy

The military of Myanmar has admitted that its soldiers killed 10 captured Rohingya Muslims, who they labelled "terrorists".

The plight of the Rohingya has received global attention and led to the widespread condemnation of Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was previously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They claim the killed Rohingyas were captured by security forces after they clashed with the military.

The massacre took place on September 2 in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine state, the Facebook post said, as tensions escalated pitting Rohingya against security forces and ethnic Rakhine locals following the killing of a Rakhine man.

The military claimed they had rushed to Inn Din to protect frightened Buddhist villagers and had been attacked by "200 Bengalis" with sticks and swords, 10 of whom were arrested and accused of having links to terrorists.

"Action will be taken against the villagers... and the security force members who violated the rules of engagement according to the law", the statement said, adding that those who failed to report the incident would be similarly punished.

It was a rare admission of wrongdoing by the Myanmar military during its operations in the western state of Rakhine.

"It was found that there were no conditions to transfer the 10 Bengali terrorists to the police station and so it was made a decision to kill them", the military said, referring to the findings of the investigating team.

Last year, the crisis pushed hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border into Bangladesh.

Angry ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers, who had lost relatives in militant attacks, wanted to kill the captives, and stabbed them after forcing them into a grave on the outskirts of the village.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar has refused to accept Rohingya Muslims as a minority group, even though they have lived in the country for generations.

Until Wednesday, Myanmar army has vigorously denied any abuses, instead locking down access to Rakhine state and accusing critics - including the United Nations - of pro-Rohingya bias and spreading "fake news".

Human rights organization Amnesty International claimed the admission exposes the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, marking a "sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing".

The minority community fled to neighbouring Bangladesh for avoiding the brutality of murders and rapes.

"The full extent of the violations and crimes against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities will not be known until the UN Fact-Finding Mission and other independent observers are given unfettered access to Myanmar, and in particular Rakhine State".

  • Rogelio Becker