By Kyaw Ye Lynn
The military on Tuesday cleared soldiers of carrying out widespread human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar despite evidence from the UN and rights groups.
The investigation into allegations in a UN report of killings, rapes, beatings and disappearances during a military operation in Rakhine state’s Maungdaw district found three soldiers guilty of relatively minor offenses.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had said crimes committed against the Muslim minority by soldiers and police could have amounted to crimes against humanity.
“Out of 18 accusations included in OHCHR’s report, 12 were found to be incorrect, with the remaining six accusations found to be false and fabricated accusations based on lies and invented statements,” the military investigators said in a statement published in the army-run Myawaddy newspaper.
Three soldiers were each jailed for a year for whipping villagers and stealing a motorbike during the operation between October last year and February.
Human Rights Watch accused the military of covering up abuses committed by its troops.
“Their duty is to cover up what’s happened there, not to expose this,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of New York-based group, told Anadolu Agency.
“Everyone knows the Myanmar military has long history of abuses. Blanket denial of wrongdoing is also one of their old tactics.”
In its report, the OHCHR said more than 70,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh during the operation.
The government said 106 people were killed during the operation but Rohingya groups have said approximately 400 were slain. Children and babies were reportedly among the victims of the atrocities.
Myanmar’s police and military established their own investigation teams in February in addition to a commission set up by the government in December to probe the allegations.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.