Myanmar’s military is investigating 16 people suspected of participating in the killing of 10 Rohingya villagers in Rakhine State’s Inn Din village last September, Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters yesterday. The suspects include seven soldiers, three police officers, and six civilians.
The announcement of the investigation comes days after the release of an explosive report by Reuters detailing the massacre and the events leading up to it. The report is based on the testimonies of “scores” of Buddhist villagers, soldiers, police, village administrators, and Rohingya refugees, which allege that the killings occurred during a military-orchestrated removal of Rohingyas from Inn Din village. These testimonies contradict the military’s claim that the killings took place during an attack on the village by 200 “terrorists” on Sept. 1.
However, Zaw Htay said the launch of the investigations into the actions of the 16 suspects that day was based on its own intelligence and was unrelated to the release of the Reuters report.
The investigations are being led by military inspector-general Lt.-Gen. Aye Win, whose December investigation into the mass grave in Inn Din and concluded that the 10 slain Rohingya men found buried there were “terrorists.” The findings of that investigation were released on Jan. 10 – the same day the Myanmar government allowed charges to be brought against reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were investigating the killings for Reuters before they were arrested on Dec. 12.
Lt.-Gen. Aye Win has previously led several internal investigations into allegations of atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces. His investigations in May and November 2017 both concluded that Myanmar troops committed no atrocities against Rohingya residents of Rakhine State. The latter investigation was declared a “whitewash” by rights groups, as evidence of military-orchestrated rape, arson, killings, and forced displacement have continued to flow from the state.
In addition to investigating the alleged perpetrators of the Inn Din killings, the Myanmar authorities are also investigating Inn Din’s village administrator Maung Thein Chay, an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs told Frontier yesterday. Maung Thein Chay told Reuters that soldiers and paramilitary police wore civilian clothing to blend in with Buddhist villagers during the clearance of Rohingya from the village on Sept. 2 and later sold Rohingya villagers’ belongings to Rakhine Buddhist businessmen from around Rakhine State.
It is not clear whether Maung Thein Chay is one of the six civilians being investigated by Lt.-Gen. Aye Win.
Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo remain on trial for allegedly violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act while investigating the Inn Din massacre, even after the military has admitted that its members “broke the rules of engagement” by killing the 10 Rohingya men on Sept. 2.
Last week’s report on the details of the Inn Din massacre prompted the US State Department to reiterate its demand for an independent investigation of suspected human rights atrocities against Rohingyas in Rakhine State.
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