The Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar is facing the deadliest violence against its vulnerable minority in decades.
The state-sanctioned genocide in the Buddhist-majority Rakhine state has forced more than 600,000 civilians to flee to Bangladesh.
Now, the Myanmar Army has released a report that it clears itself from the Rohingya crisis, which the United Nations has called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". The report denies all allegations of rape, stealing possessions, killing people and burning villages.
It, in fact, states that the military interviewed thousands of villagers who “confirmed” the security forces were not involved in any of the atrocities.
According to the report, the villagers agreed the army “did not kill people,” “did not arrest, beat and kill the villagers,” “did not totally destroy, rob and take property, gold and silver wares, vehicles and animals of villagers, “did not set fire to mosques,” among several other claims.
The report further alleged the brutal acts were performed by people from within the Rohingya community, which the report called “terrorists.”
The claims in the report, however, contradict reports of journalists and human rights activists on the line. Although media access in the Rakhine state has been limited, U.N. officials and some independent journalists have been able to report horrific stories.
A senior U.N. official, who visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, said there was proof of rape. Medics helping people in the camps also said Rohingya girls as young as 10 have been sexually assaulted while fleeing violence in the Rakhine state.
Another medical specialist said, in majority of the cases, soldiers from the Myanmar army placed the women and girls in one place and then picked “the most beautiful one.” She was taken away to be raped.
If the statements of medics aren't proof enough, relatives of the victims have also spoken out and shared the horrific incidents the army is trying to get away with in the internal investigation report.
A 27-year-old woman from the Buthidaung area of Rakhine shared the terrifying story of her sister’s rape.
“The military put all the male people to one side and took all the female people into the jungle. I cried when they took away my little sister, but I couldn’t stop them. They tortured and raped many girls and women,” she said.
She further added, “When they stopped and left, I went looking for my sister and saw many bodies on the ground. When I found my sister I didn’t know if she was alive or dead but she was breathing. She was bleeding a lot so I carried her to a little river and washed her. Then I took her on my shoulders till I found a small medical clinic [in Rakhine] and got some medicine for her.”
Earlier, in another attempt to do away with the atrocities, quite a few images surfaced showing a group of villagers supposedly setting fire to their own homes.
The photos, which showed the faces of the perpetrators a bit too clearly to be honest, were then used by the Myanmar government and other anti-Rohingya supporters to propagate that the Rohingya were themselves burning down their homes and blaming it on the military forces.
However, it later turned out that reporters identified them as the Hindu IDPs they had interviewed earlier.
To add more to the proof against the Myanmar army, satellites images released by Human Rights Watch confirmed Myanmar wiped out entire Rohingya villages.
The report comes at point when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to meet Myanmar’s de-facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
It is also expected that Tillerson will deliver a warning to the authorities over the escalating Rohingya crisis.
Well they would say that wouldn't they? When ever has anyone actively carrying out ethic cleansing admitted it?: #Myanmar army denies atrocities against #Rohingya Muslims https://t.co/dxMco4LFdQ via @IrishTimesWorld— Colm O'Gorman (@Colmogorman) November 13, 2017
The Burmese army have released their own investigation into events in Rakhine State.— Jonah Fisher (@JonahFisherBBC) November 13, 2017
In brief: We've done nothing at all wrong - not a single dead innocent Bengali (Rohingya). Not even shot at them. https://t.co/ZTsxQbdvSC pic.twitter.com/5VvGNWFZJV
Spotlight/Banner: Reuters, Wa Lone