Yangon, Myanmar/Burma — A mass grave containing the bodies of 10 dead Rohingya Muslims has been uncovered in Rakhine State, Burma; the Rohingya combatants in the area have told authorities that the people buried were not a part of their organization. The government had earlier admitted to killing 10 “terrorists” in September, but have since told the press that the victims were in fact civilians. The military has said that legal action will be taken against the soldiers involved in the killing of the 10 Muslims, and also against the local Buddhist villagers who were involved. The mass grave is located in a village on the coast named Inn Din.
This has once again caught the attention of the international community, which has been vying to get the Burmese government to allow an investigation regarding the conflict in Rakhine state with the Rohingya. This could be the first step towards a more transparent regime, though sources on the ground tell SOFREP that they remain skeptical. There are concerns that admitting to one crime will allow the illusion of transparency, while the same war crimes that have continuously occurred for 70 years continue.
Regardless, this is significant because it is very rare for the Burmese government to admit to wrongdoing, especially in regards to its treatment of the Rohingya people. Despite the international criticisms and the documented cases of human rights abuses from multiple NGOs and international aid organizations, the Burmese military has seemed to consistently double down on their efforts to either drive the Rohingya out of the country, or exterminate them altogether.
The U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Scot Marciel, said that,
The military’s acknowledgment that the security forces were involved in the killing of these 10 individuals is an important step … We hope it is followed up by more transparency and by holding those responsible accountable. I would stress this should be done, not as a favor to the international community, but because it’s good for the health of Myanmar’s democracy.”
The government has claimed to “repatriate” eligible Rohingya civilians, but continues with violent tactics toward civilians which has led to well over 650,000 refugees fleeing over the border and into Bangladesh. There they are confined to refugee camps with poor living conditions and the Bangladeshi government has even proposed sending over 100,000 refugees to an island many have deemed uninhabitable. The island is essentially made of soot, is extremely prone to flooding and is sometimes completely submerged. Sources have told SOFREP that the island is “essentially a mudbank.”
Featured image: Rohingya Muslims are silhouetted against the dusk sky in Jamtoli refugee camp on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Bangladesh. Since late August, more than 620,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh, seeking safety from what the military described as “clearance operations.” The United Nations and others have said the military’s actions appeared to be a campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” using acts of violence and intimidation and burning down homes to force the Rohingya to leave their communities. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)