Military silent after vowing action against soldiers who filmed boat beating

Still image from a video apparently shot by a Myanmar military soldier. Image: Rathedaung Media
Still image from a video apparently shot by a Myanmar military soldier. Image: Rathedaung Media

A week after the Burmese military said it would investigate five of its soldiers caught beating a group of Rakhine civilians on a boat, no progress has been cited in the case.

The Tatmadaw has not publicly commented on the case since a statement early last week that it would take action against soldiers involved in an “unlawful interrogation” that also accused the men, seen physically and verbally assaulted by soldiers in partial uniform, of being insurgents. Any potential case would likely end up before a military tribunal, which operate in secrecy.

It said the incident took place April 27 on a military boat, six days after the five had been arrested April 21. It alleged they were connected to the insurgent Arakan Army.

Several videos of the incident found their way online.

“Fuck your mother,” a man, apparently the one filming the scene, can be heard as another repeatedly kicks and slaps the victims in one of the videos.

“We are going to kill all of you. Did you hear?” a man partially dressed in military uniform says before kicking one of the victims in the chest.

The blindfolded civilians were kicked, punched and slapped on several parts of their body. The victims replied they worked as coolies as they cried and called for help. But their pleas fell on deaf ears.

At another point, a man with grey hair was filmed slapping and punching at least three victims multiple times as he interrogated them.

“What is your rank?” the man asks. “Are you a private in the [Arakan Army]?”

The insurgent group has been challenging Burmese military supremacy in the region. On May 9, the military announced a ceasefire until September that excluded “terrorist organizations” as it considers the Arakan Army.

The Burmese military has been accused by the United Nations of committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. A top U.N. court ordered Myanmar in January to “take all measures within its power” to protect the ethnic group.

Last week the All Arakan Students’ & Youths’ Congress listed a series of allegations against the Burmese military.

“In these incidents, the Burmese military is not fighting against the armed group,” it said. “Instead, we find that they are systematically using the armed group as a reason to destabilize and rule with terror the Rakhine society.”

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