Fortify Rights released a short video on Thursday that appears to contain evidence of a coordinated effort by the Myanmar military to drive Rohingya villagers from their homes. The rights group has suggested that the footage be reviewed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it determines whether Myanmar should be formally investigated on allegations of crimes against humanity.
In the video, a Myanmar Army soldier explains to a group of non-Rohingya civilians that security forces plan to “clear out” Rohingya villages. He assures them that non-Rohingya villages will be protected and instructs them to pick up swords and sticks to help the clearance effort.
“We’re going to crack down on them severely and fast,” the soldier says, referring to Rohingya. “No worries about that. We’ll clear out their villages soon after we leave here.”
He goes on: “Our indigenous [non-Rohingya] villages will be protected when clearance actions begin. One group [of soldiers] will protect ethnic villages. One group will make clearance. Security forces will block the escape of Rohingya, so they don’t spill towards our indigenous villages.”
The solider portrays all Rohingya as posing an existential threat to Myanmar, telling his audience “they will conquer the whole country,” adding: “These guys have a high breeding population rate and high population growth, so they threaten our ethnic minorities here with their population.”
The video first appeared online on Aug. 28, 2017, three days after clearance operations began. Reports released by Fortify Rights and by UN investigators contain accounts of soldiers, police, and local non-Rohingya citizens working together to hack Rohingya civilians, slit throats, and fatally shoot and burn thousands of men, women, and children.
On Sept. 6, the ICC decided that it had jurisdiction to rule on whether Myanmar committed the crime of forced deportation, which is a crime against humanity. The court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, recently launched a preliminary examination into the allegations.
“Myanmar authorities consistently claim they didn’t force Rohingya from their homes, and this footage shows a soldier explaining in detail that the authorities would indeed force Rohingya out of their villages,” said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights. “We hope this will be of use to ICC prosecutors and others pursuing justice for the army’s wanton attacks on civilians.”