Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced to 10 years for Rohingya massacre

Ten Rohingya men kneel with their hands bound shortly before their extralegal execution by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist villagers in Inn Din village on Sept. 2, 2017.

Seven Myanmar soldiers have been sentenced to 10-year prison terms with hard labor for their roles in the massacre of 10 Rohingya men in the Rakhine State village on Inn Din in Sept. 2017, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief announced this morning.

“Seven officials and other ranks of the Tatmadaw who have to abide by the Defence Services Act and rules were found to have violated the Article 71 of the Defence Services Act because they [got] involved in the murder, a civilian crime,” read the announcement.

The military’s investigation of what it initially called a “violation of the rules of engagement” began on Jan. 10, 2017. In a rare admission of wrongdoing,  the army announced that it would hold the perpetrators responsible, though it still maintained that the victims were “Bengali terrorists.”

That same day, charges were officially brought against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under the Official Secrets Act in response to their attempts to investigate and expose the massacre.

Following the publication in February of the Reuters reporters’ detailed report on the massacre, which contradicted the claim that the victims were militants, government spokesman Zaw Htay announced that 16 people were being investigated, including seven soldiers, three police officers, and six civilians. The army’s announcement this morning said that “legal action is being taken against the [Myanmar Police Force] members and civilians under the respective laws, procedures and rules,” but it did not mention what charges they are facing or whether they have been convicted.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) estimates that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the first month of the military’s most recent crackdown on Rohingya communities, which began following an assault by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security installations in northern Rakhine State on Aug. 25, 2017.

Aside from the Inn Din massacre, Myanmar’s government and military have denied allegations of rights abuses and continue to restrict access to the area by rights investigators and reporters.

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