For the first time, Myanmar soldiers have openly testified to the massacre of ethnic Rohingya in 2017. “Shoot everything you see and hear,” are said to have been the orders of their superiors.
Myanmar denies mass killings
The two confess they murdered dozens of Rohingya villagers in Rakhine state in 2017 and buried them in mass graves, said The New York Times, who holds the images.
As of Monday, the two are said to have been in custody by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where an investigation is ongoing into crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Myanmar, writes The New York Times.
A spokesperson for the Hague court denies that they have been arrested or detained at the criminal court. This does not mean that they are not in The Hague, for example for an interrogation or witness protection.
The testimony is special, as Myanmar repeatedly denies genocide or structural violence against the Rohingyas. The country speaks of some anti-terrorist operations that have gotten out of hand.
These testimonies may invalidate this defense of Myanmar and can be used by the prosecutors of the Hague criminal court.
Much is still unclear about the images and the two soldiers. The New York Times cannot verify that the military was actually involved in the actions against Rohingya, but writes that many details of the statements correspond with earlier statements by victims and witnesses, among others.
The images are said to have been recorded by a militia group in Myanmar, the Arakan Army. According to the group, the soldiers deserted and were not prisoners.
According to a Canadian lawyer representing Bangladesh at the International Criminal Court, the two soldiers appeared at the Bangladesh border. There they filed for government protection and confessed to their involvement in the mass murders and rapes of Rohingya in 2017. The lawyer says they are no longer in Bangladesh.
The mass murders and rapes of Rohingya led to one of the biggest refugee crises ever in 2017. Within weeks of the start of the actions, some 750,000 stateless Rohingya had fled.