Myanmar’s admission that soldiers were involved in the murder of 10 Muslims in September was an important step and the United States hoped it would be followed by more transparency and accountability, the U.S. ambassador said on Thursday (Jan 11).
The European Union and representatives of Muslim nations renewed calls for a broader international investigation into violence in the western state of Rakhine, after the military said on Wednesday its soldiers had killed 10 captured Rohingya Muslim “terrorists” at the beginning of September.
It was a rare acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the Myanmar military during the operation it launched in northern Rakhine in response to Rohingya militant attacks on Aug. 25. Since then, more than 650,000 Muslim villagers have fled to Bangladesh.
“The military’s acknowledgment that the security forces were involved in the killing of these 10 individuals is an important step,” Ambassador Scot Marciel said in a forum on media freedom with journalism students and reporters in the main city Yangon.
“We hope it is followed up by more transparency and by holding those responsible accountable. I would stress this should be done, not as a favour to the international community, but because it’s good for the health of Myanmar’s democracy.”
The military announced on Dec. 18 that a mass grave containing 10 bodies had been found at the coastal village of Inn Din, about 50 km (30 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe. The army appointed a senior officer to investigate.
The military said legal action would be taken against members of the security forces who violated their rules of engagement in killing the 10 suspected insurgents, and against ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers who were also involved.
Meanwhile, the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said the admission substantiated allegations made by human rights groups and the United Nations of ethnic cleansing against “the most persecuted Rohingya people”.