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Myanmar crisis: Buddhist villagers and security forces torched Rohingya homes before killing the owners


Bound together, the 10 Rohingya captives watched their Buddhist neighbours dig a grave. Soon afterwards, on the morning of 2 September, all 10 lay dead. At least two were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers. The rest were shot by soldiers, two of the gravediggers said.

The killings marked another episode in the violence sweeping Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. The Rohingya accuse the army of arson, rapes and killings. The United Nations has said the army may have committed genocide. Myanmar says its “clearance operation” is a legitimate response to attacks by insurgents.

Rohingya people trace their presence in Rakhine back centuries. But most people in majority-Buddhist Myanmar consider them to be unwanted Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. The army refers to the Rohingya as “Bengalis”, and most lack citizenship. In recent years, the government has confined more than 100,000 Rohingya in camps where they have limited access to food, medicine and education. Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled their villages and crossed the border into Bangladesh since August.

What happened in the days leading up to the killings in Inn Din has now been pieced together, drawing for the first time on interviews with Buddhist villagers who confessed to torching Rohingya homes, burying bodies and killing Muslims.

This account also marks the first time soldiers and paramilitary police have been implicated by testimony from security personnel. Three photographs, belonging to a Buddhist village elder, capture key moments, from the Rohingya men’s detention by soldiers in the early evening of 1 September to their execution shortly after 10am on 2 September.

The Reuters investigation was what prompted police authorities to arrest two of the news agency’s reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, on 12 December for allegedly obtaining confidential documents relating to Rakhine. Then, on 10 January, the military issued a statement that confirmed portions of what to be reported, acknowledging that 10 Rohingya men were massacred at Inn Din.

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The Independent