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Deserters from Burmese military confirm Rohingya massacres

Maya Taylor

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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

      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

        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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

The Thaiger

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Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases – between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days. The DDC director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai told Bangkok Post that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Myanmar people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.”

Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

Further west, in Bangladesh, the country is registering 1,600 – 1,800 new cases per day, but falling, and India, which is still registering 75,000 – 97,000 cases per day (over the past week), is likely to surpass the US total in the next few months if the present case trends continue.

The fluid borders in the region continue to worry Thai officials who are scrambling to better secure the long border between Thailand and Myanmar, which runs from Chiang Rai in the north to Ranong in the south. Even Malaysia, to the south of Thailand, has had a recent spike of new cases, some of the outbreaks in the northern Malay state of Kedah which shares Thailand’s southernmost border.

Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, is now in a deep lockdown, including directing people to stay home, except for emergencies or to buy food, most schools around the city are now closed and residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Meanwhile the border checkpoints have become busy where Burmese are trying to cross into Thailand as fears sweep their country about the rise of the cases. The DDC chief says that “tough legal action will be implemented against those found to be involved in human smuggling gangs”.

Yesterday a Burmese teenager, living near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. The 17 year old boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The Pass, and the border zones around it, are a fluid mix of Thai and Burmese locals doing day-to-day trade. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive a week later.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for trying to cross into Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus at this stage.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Reuters | Chiang Rai Times

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Myanmar

Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

The Thaiger

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Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | The Thaiger

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols. Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon. The current rise in cases originally broke out in the western Rakhine state and the city of Sittwe about a month ago.

Yangon is now under lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Google

Yangon’s lockdown rules have paralysed the city. Almost all its businesses are closed, with the exception of essential services, and people must have a permit from their district administration to attend work.

All domestic travel – buses, taxis, trains, planes – is now shut down and the country’s schools are closed. Even driving a car around Yangon at the moment requires a permit from the city administration. When it comes to food, only one person is allowed to leave the home at a time and exercising outside is not allowed. Even if there’s a medical emergency only 2 people may leave the home but must have permission from their district administrators. Residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Of course everyone must wear a face mask whilst outside and in public places.

Curfews remain in place in most areas and checkpoints have now been set up around the region. Even the public service has been told to remain at home and work remotely until further notice. Some parts of Yangon are now under even harsher lockdowns with a ‘Chinese style’ lockdown where people are not permitted to leave their home for any reason at all the aid workers patrol the area handing out supplies and food. (When the city of Wuhan and the state of Hubei were locked down in the earliest phases of the Covid-19 virus, the lockdowns were similarly draconian, and ultimately effective)

There were 610 and 6 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Yesterday 671 new cases of Covid-10 were reported, the biggest spike, by far, since the outbreak began. The cumulative total number of infections is now 5,541 while the death toll remains at 92 people.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Worldometer.info

Across the border, in Thailand, officials have increased checkpoints and border patrols along the long and leaky jungle border region. Thais living along the border are being asked to report strangers and minimise their movement around the border zones, traditionally busy local hubs for trade. Thai officials fear there will be a migration of Burmese trying to flee the country as the crackdown on movement causes panic in the country.

In a predictable explanation about a recent case of a 2 year old Burmese child who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, Thai health authorities now say the child “may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar”.

The health department says they speculate that the child “was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town”. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand, and quit their jobs last month. The department says the infant probably contracted the virus around September 4 – 10 while the family was travelling. The family crossed unofficial passageways, not passing through a checkpoint, into Myanmar. News website Xinhua claims it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

SOURCES: Pattaya News | Xinhua | Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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