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Deserters from Burmese military confirm Rohingya massacres

Maya Taylor

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Deserters from Burmese military confirm Rohingya massacres | Thaiger
Houses on fire in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine state, September 2017. PHOTO: AP

2 army deserters from Myanmar have testified on video to the ritual slaughter of the country’s Rohingya Muslims, by order of the nation’s military – the Tatmadaw. 33 year old Myo Win Tun and 30 year old Zaw Naing Tun, are now believed to be in the custody of the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, after fleeing to Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh and asking Bangladeshi officials for protection. The ICC is currently conducting an investigation into alleged atrocities committed against Myanmar’s Rohingya population by the ruling military junta.

There has been widespread reporting and condemnation of the Tatmadaw’s ‘atrocities in the past – all strenuously denied by Burmese leadership.

In separate videos, each of the soldiers speaks to camera and details the shocking nature of the carnage. The videos have been posted on the website of Fortify Rights, a human rights group focused on Myanmar. It’s believed the testimonies are the first from actual Burmese soldiers, and could contribute valuable evidence to the international investigation, which is expected to last years.

Fortify Rights says both men have provided the names and ranks of 19 army members, including themselves, they say were directly involved in committing or ordering the atrocities. The story has been reported by the Associated Press, which says that, while it is not possible to verify the soldiers’ stories or know if they were testifying under duress, the accounts do match those already documented by UN agencies and human rights groups.

Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims are now believed to have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape the campaign of terror being waged against them. The official line from the Burmese military is that it is a clearance campaign as a result of an attack carried out by Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine state. The government consistently denies that any mass shootings or rapes, or the burning of thousands of homes, has ever taken place. The testimony of the two former soldiers appears to contradict this.

Myo Win Tun says that on entering Muslim villages, his commander, Than Htike, would give the order to, “shoot all you see and all you hear”, adding that in one village, they murdered and buried 30 people, including, “8 women, 7 children and 15 men and elderly.” He says men were shot in the forehead before being kicked into a hole, while women were raped prior to being murdered. He admits to raping one woman himself. He says soldiers also stole mobile phones and laptops, as well as cattle.

In a 2nd video, Zaw Naing Tun says he was part of a unit that wiped out 20 Rohingya villages, killing 80 people, including children and the elderly. He says the murders were ordered by his commander, Myo Myint Aung. On one occasion, 10 villagers suspected of belonging to an insurgent group were tied up and shot dead. He says an army sergeant and a corporal raped 3 Rohingya women while searching their homes. He says he did not rape anyone but admits to being involved in looting and stealing from a marketplace.

“We entered into the market, destroyed locks and doors, and then we took money, gold, clothes, food and mobile phones.”

The ICC has declined to comment on the videos while the investigation is ongoing, but Matthew Smith from Fortify Rights says the testimonies prove what has long been known about the regime in Myanmar.

“These confessions demonstrate what we’ve long known, which is that the Myanmar army is a well-functioning national army operating with a specific and centralised command structure. Commanders control, direct, and order their subordinates in all they do. In this case, commanders ordered foot soldiers to commit genocidal acts and exterminate Rohingya, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Fortify Rights is urging the ICC to try both men and then enter them into a witness protection program in exchange for their testimonies.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tun Tun Oo

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    I would like to send the truth of this event. These two soldiers were arrested by AA terrorists and made force them to say that Myanmar Tatmadaw set fire Bengali villages and Myanmar Tatmadaw troops raped Bengali women.

  2. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Nobody seems to explain the Bangladesh civil war in 1971 that resulted in all the Bangladeshi refugees entering Burma, and inventing this new name and new history and creating the conflict. I don’t quite understand why journalists are so uninquisitive about the background to this story.

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, September 11, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Your comment is noted Tun Tun Oo. Please post more.
    My understanding is that the Royhinga entered Burma and simply squatted on land they did not own and farmed.
    Possibly because the land was barren and deserted.
    They had no right to be there. Anyone know more please post . . .
    However the way they were forced out was, and is a scandal.
    I am not sure about the killings and rapes.
    This Ang Sang Khi is keeping quiet about the whole matter. Big freedom fighter until she has power, then ignores unpopular people who lose their freedom!

  4. Avatar

    MarkThalang

    Friday, September 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Many of the Rohingya have been in the area for hundreds of years. Early European explorers noted their presence. Many more arrived during the British Colonial period, before Burma’s (as it was then known) independence.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/people/reference/rohingya-people/

    It really is not hard get the facts. I don’t know why people speculate.

    • Avatar

      J.C.

      Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 12:53 am

      So some are ancestors of those people. That doesn’t prove that all or even most are though, does it? Doesn’t the world already have more than enough Moslem invaders?

      • Avatar

        MarkThalang

        Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 12:40 pm

        When the tourists are back, go to Patong, which was once a mostly Muslim fishing village, and see all the non Muslim invaders. Your comment shows you are both ignorant and bigoted.

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Myanmar

More bitter clashes yesterday in Myanmar with the toll rising to 618

Tim Newton

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More bitter clashes yesterday in Myanmar with the toll rising to 618 | Thaiger
PHOTO: Burmese troops attack residents in Bago - Kadeshan

“618 Burmese civilians, including 48 children, have been killed by the army and their security forces since the February 1 coup.”

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports that Burmese soldiers have killed 80 civilian protesters near Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Myanmar Now reports the number as 82…

“The junta’s armed forces crushed a key protest stronghold in Bago’s Ma Ga Dit road in a pre-dawn attack…. Soldiers have been stationed at the Zeyar Muni pagoda compound in the town and have taken dead bodies inside…. “There could be at least 57 dead bodies inside the pagoda compound as well as three bodies at a local morgue and one that was cremated immediately”.

Witnesses say troops used rifle grenades against protesters in Bago.

“A leader of the protest column in Bago said no one could go outside as soldiers were shooting at anybody they saw on the streets,” according to Myanmar Now.

The reporting of numbers of civilian deaths has become more complicated since the Army chiefs ordered a switch off of communications and internet, throttling the communications between people and groups inside the country. The story of the 82 people massacred in Bago took more than 24 hours to emerge.

Another Bago resident told AFP that Army officials wouldn’t allow rescue workers near the bodies.

“They piled up all the dead bodies, loaded them into their army truck and drove it away,” he told AFP.

Footage from Al Jazeera here…

 

Yesterday, in Tamu, Sagaing Region, in far northwest Myanmar, locals ambushed Burmese security forces with home-made rifles as they tried to enter the town to confront protesters. At least 3 soldiers and one local resident were killed in that clash.

Meanwhile, forces calling themselves the ‘Three Brotherhood Alliance’ of ethnic armed organisations attacked a police station yesterday, 25 kilometres outside of Lashio, deep in the northern Shan State near the Chinese border, resulting in the death of many police. Myanmar Now reports that 8 police were killed in the attack, including the police chief.

Troops from the Arakan Army , the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army were involved in the strike, according to local residents.

The Brotherhood Alliance is also a part of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee led by the United Wa State Army, an organisation trying to unite Myanmar’s disparate ethnic groups against the Burmese army.

In another update, according to AFP, 19 people were reported to have been sentenced to death for killing an associate of an army captain near Yangon, the first sentences of that nature announced on military-owned TV outlets. Only 2 of the sentenced are currently in custody, the others were sentenced in absentia.

SOURCES: AFP | Myanmar Now

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Thailand

UN special envoy in Thailand to meet Foreign Minister about Myanmar crisis

Tim Newton

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UN special envoy in Thailand to meet Foreign Minister about Myanmar crisis | Thaiger
PHOTO: Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener - The MM Times

The UN’s special envoy on Myanmar is meeting with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in ongoing diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution for the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.

But Thai officials have put her quarantine ahead of the needs of the Burmese people with Christine Schraner Burgener, who arrived in Bangkok yesterday, having to spend 7 days in ASQ before meeting in person with FM Don. The special envoy received 2 doses of Covid vaccine before her departure to Thailand.

She is visiting Thailand as part of a quick (well, not so quick with the imposed 7 day delay) diplomatic tour around ASEAN nations to “explore possible solutions” to the continuing carnage in Myanmar brought about by the Tatmadaw following a military coup on February 1. Nearly 600 civilians have been killed by gangs of soldiers under orders to crackdown on protesters who insist on a return of the civilian Aung San Suu Kyi government.

In the November general election in Myanmar, the military backed parties only gained 17% of the total vote. Military chiefs say that there was “voting irregularities” despite Myanmar’s independent election commission claiming the vote was “free and fair”.

Christine Schraner Burgener, a former Swiss ambassador to Thailand, has served as the special envoy on Myanmar for 3 years. Her specific mandate from the UN is to “support the reform, reconciliation and democratisation processes in Myanmar, as well as to address violence in Rakhine State and Rohingya displaced persons”.

Thailand’s government whilst calling for a peaceful resolution has held back from more forceful language over the violence in the neighbouring country. The government has also come under fire from NGOs stationed on the border, monitoring the flow of refugees crossing from Myanmar, who claim the government has been doing little to help and, in some cases, just turning the refugees back and refusing them entry.

According to Thai PBS World, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry says that Thailand is “deeply concerned”.

“We are committed to cooperating and engaging constructively with the international community, including through the UN and ASEAN, in order to find a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people. We hope that this visit to the region by the Special Envoy can contribute towards possible solutions.”

AFP quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying that the junta in Myanmar has not yet given Burgener a “green light” to visit the country..

With the backing of the UN Security Council, Christine Schraner Burgener says she wants to visit detained civilian leaders, mostly from the NLD ruling party (before February 1, including the Myanmar President Wint Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World | AFP

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Myanmar

Burmese refugees are being aided, PM Prayut assures

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Burmese refugees are being aided, PM Prayut assures | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha

Burmese refugees along the Thai-Myanmar border are being provided with humanitarian assistance according to a statement by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday. PM Prayut spoke about the growing crisis at Government House Wednesday after a cabinet meeting. He said that the two countries, since they are neighbouring, need to be in agreement and work together and Thailand can’t take sharp independent action. He believes the problem must be addressed diplomatically.

The remarks come in defence of growing concern that the Thai government is not doing enough to help Burmese refugees affected by the military crackdown. PM Prayut pointed out that there’s already a government body in place designed to address and handle issues along the border, called the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t care when speaking in terms of humanitarian affairs because it is about human lives. The government has suggested guidelines to solve [the crisis] via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEAN which will have a meeting shortly. We must solve the problem systematically. Because our two countries are next to each other, we can’t take decisions by ourselves. As for violence, we disagree [with it].”

The Immigration Bureau Chief estimates there are about 2,000 Burmese refugees currently in the Mae Hong Son province. Several Burmese refugees have even been treated within Thailand after being injured fighting inside the Myanmar border.

The issue is exacerbated by a dual crisis with the crackdown on protests following the Burmese coup and the expanding outbreak of Covid-19 transmission. Government officials are calling for cooperation along the border and in both countries to try to resolve the refugee crisis as well as contain Covid-19 outbreaks, which are currently on the rise again.

Six more checkpoints have been reopened in the meantime along the Thai-Burmese border since March. 46 of the 97 border openings are currently open with checkpoints in operation..

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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