Sep 8, 2020 - World

2 Myanmar soldiers confess to massacre of Rohingya Muslims

A boy wearing a face mask sits in the dirt in front of a crowd of people laying on the ground or sitting
Rohingya Muslim refugees in a shelter in Lhokseumawe City, Indonesia. Photo: Rahmat Mirza/Opn Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Two Myanmar soldiers gave the military's first documented confession of participating in the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in 2017, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Thousands of Rohingya adults and children suffered violent deaths in what the United Nations has deemed a genocidal campaign against the Muslim minority. Over one million refugees have been displaced after villages were burned and destroyed, food withheld, men decapitated and women and girls raped, according to witnesses.

What they're saying: Private Myo Win Tun said in video testimony shared with international prosecutors that he participated in killing 30 Rohingya Muslims after receiving an order from his commanding officer in August 2017 to "shoot all you see and all you hear," per the Times.

  • Private Zaw Naing Tun said that he and his comrades "wiped out about 20 villages" after they were ordered to "kill all you see, whether children or adults."
  • Both men said that they later dumped the bodies in mass graves, the locations of which were independently confirmed to the Times by multiple villagers.

The big picture: The two soldiers, who fled from Myanmar last month, are effectively in the custody of the the International Criminal Court, which has agreed to investigate the atrocities. Myanmar's government has denied a campaign against its Rohingya population.

Where it stands: The UN's International Court of Justice is also currently overseeing a case, filed by Gambia, that accuses Myanmar of attempting to "destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part," through torture, killings, rape, beatings, as well as destroying their food and shelter.

Go deeper: Rohingya refugees long to return home but fear what they'd find there

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