SHAFAQNA – Tens of thousands of people from the persecuted ethnic group — loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority — fled a military operation in Rakhine state launched after attacks on police posts.
Bangladesh said some 50,000 Rohingya had fled across its border over the past two months. Many had brought harrowing accounts of abuse, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces.
Their stories raised global alarm and galvanized protests against Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been accused of not doing enough to help the Rohingya.
Her government said troops are hunting militants behind deadly raids on police border posts, denying claims of atrocities and launching a dogged information campaign against reports of abuse.
However, authorities Monday pledged to take action “against police who allegedly beat villagers during area clearance operations on Nov. 5 in Kotankauk village” in a statement carried in state media.
Dozens of videos emerged apparently showing security forces abusing Rohingya, but this is the first time the government said it will take action over them.
The footage shows police hitting a young boy around the head as he walks to where dozens of villagers are lined up in rows seated on the ground, hands behind their heads.
Three officers in uniform then start attacking one of the sitting men, beating him with a stick and kicking him repeatedly in the face.
The video is filmed ‘selfie-style’ by an officer, named as Constable Zaw Myo Htike by state media, which said he recorded it during “clearance operations” in Kotankauk village.
A Rohingya activist contacted by AFP said the footage had been verified by a refugee from the nearby camp, Shilkhali.
Myanmar had long discriminated against the stateless Rohingya, who rights groups said are among the most persecuted peoples in the world.
More than 120,000 had been trapped in squalid displacement camps since violence erupted in 2012 in Rakhine, where they are denied citizenship, access to healthcare and education.
More than a dozen Nobel laureates wrote to the UN Security Council last week urging action to stop the “human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in northern Rakhine.
Under Myanmar’s junta-era constitution Suu Kyi’s civilian administration has limited power over the army, which maintains control of the defense, home and border ministries.