Nay Pyi Taw: The Myanmar Army on Tuesday again denied having committed any abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority, including murders and rapes, during its operations in Rakhine State.
The latest military operations began late August in response to a series of assaults by a group of Rohingya insurgents on police posts, causing more than 614,000 people, most of them members of the minority community, to flee to Bangladesh, reports Efe news. The military campaign drew criticism from various organisations which denounced the authorities' numerous abuses against civilians, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described the situation as an "ethnic cleansing".
The Army, on the other hand, has maintained that the security forces always acted in accordance with the law and did not shoot innocent civilians, according to the report issued by the military. "The findings of the investigation have proved that all security members up from the leaders to the privates were aware of and strictly abided by the orders and directives of superior bodies, especially the rules of engagement.
"They did not arrest, beat or kill civilians. They did not destroy or rob property... They did not threaten, bully or drive out the villagers," it added.
The military said that its report was based on interviews with 3,217 Rohingya villagers, whose citizenship has not been recognized in the country and were referred to in the report as "Bengalis". According to the lengthy report, published on the Facebook page of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, engagements and fights caused the deaths of at least 376 insurgents, whom it described as "Bengali terrorists," and 13 members of the security forces.
According to the report, engagements and fights caused the deaths of at least 376 insurgents, whom it described as "Bengali terrorists", and 13 members of the security forces. The document also highlighted that during these shootings, "not a single shot" was fired on civilians who were fleeing their homes, and that the arrest of the rebels were made under the provisions of the Geneva Convention.
Amnesty International (AI) described the report as an attempt by the Myanmar Army to "whitewash crimes against humanity". "Once again, Myanmar's military is trying to sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet," AI's Director of Southeast Asia and Pacific James Gomez said. The organisation added that "there is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingya and burned their villages to the ground" and called for an investigation by the UN.
Before the military campaign, it was estimated that around 1 million Rohingya people lived in Rakhine, where they suffer increasing discrimination since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012 that caused at least 160 deaths.
Regarding them as Bengali immigrants, Myanmar does not recognise the citizenship of the Rohingya and for years has imposed multiple restrictions on them, including the restriction of movements.