Dhaka, Dec 19 (Just News): The Myanmar military systematically raped and killed several hundred Rohingya Muslims in a village in the Asian country’s north in August this year, according to a shocking report released by Human Rights Watch.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who is United Nations High Conmissioner for Human Rights, said civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and head of armed forces Gen Aung Min Hlaing could be hit with explosive genocide charges following a number of atrocities.
Mr Al Hussein has called for an international criminal investigation into what he labelled as “shockingly brutal attacks” against the Muslim ethnic group.
A Rohingya Muslim refugee Nosuba Khatun shows the bullet wound inflicted while fleeing from an attack by the Myanmar military at her shelter in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar. Photo: AFP
“You couldn’t exclude the possibility of acts of genocide ... You cannot rule it out as having taken place or taking place,” he said in an interview.
The UN rights chief stressed that it would be up to a court to determine whether or not genocide had occurred.
The alleged massacre took place on August 30 in the village of Tula Toli in Maungdaw township, just days after the military launched “clearance operations” in response to deadly Rohingya militant attacks on police posts on August 25.
Human Rights Watch’s Asia director Brad Adams said soldiers in Myanmar carried out their attack in August with ‘cruel efficiency’ that took ‘advanced planning’.
“The Burmese army’s atrocities at Tula Toli were not just brutal, they were systematic,” said Mr Adams, using the old name for Myanmar, according to the rights watchdog’s Tuesday release.
“Soldiers carried out killings and rapes of hundreds of Rohingya with a cruel efficiency that could only come with advance planning.”
Rohingya Muslim refugees who were stranded after leaving Myanmar walk towards Balukhali refugee camp after crossing the border in Bangladesh's Ukhia district. Photo: AFP
Rohingya Muslim refugees who were stranded after leaving Myanmar walk towards Balukhali refugee camp after crossing the border in Bangladesh's Ukhia district. Photo: AFPSource:AFP
Since then, 655,000 Rohingya people have fled across the border to Bangladesh, bringing with them reports of rape, killings, and arson that the UN has said could provide evidence of genocide.
The Bangladesh and Myanmar governments reached a deal in late November to start returning people back to Myanmar within two months, a call that has outraged the Rohingya, many of them reportedly threatening to commit suicide should they be forced back, a recent report from poverty charity Oxfam claimed.
The 30-page Human Rights Watch report, titled Massacre by the River: Burmese Army Crimes against Humanity in Tula Toli, was based on interviews with 18 survivors of the massacre who had fled to Bangladesh.
This woman says she was raped by members of Myanmar's armed forces in June and again in September. The use of rape by Myanmar's armed forces has been sweeping and methodical. Photo: AP
This woman says she was raped by members of Myanmar's armed forces in June and again in September. The use of rape by Myanmar's armed forces has been sweeping and methodical. Photo: APSource:AP
One such survivor, 51-year old Mohammed Zakaria told HRW that villagers gathered together on a beach next to the village for safety before the soldiers began killing.
He was able to escape by swimming across the river.
He told HRW that soldiers “started with the strongest men, they killed those with bullets.
“Some of the old people, they killed with their machetes, and the children among them were stabbed with knives, hit by machetes, and beaten with wooden sticks.”
The killings went on for hours, according to witnesses, and the soldiers later gathered the bodies in large pits on the beach and burnt them with the help of ethnic Rakhine villagers.
The report comes a day after the Myanmar military announced “unidentified bodies” had been found in another part of northern Rakhine State.