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Human rights groups have repeatedly accused Myanmar security forces of abusing the members of Muslim Rohingya community, but the authorities hardly took notice.
However, after what seems like a lifetime of relative indifference regarding the horrific treatment of the minorities, the government had to open an investigation into the use of excessive violence after a video showing instances of police brutality went viral.
The selfie-style footage was reportedly recorded in November, but was uploaded on YouTube over the weekend, drawing attention from the rest of the world. The clip, filmed by a border security guard during an intense clearance operation, shows officers lining up cowering Rohingya men and brutalizing them.
Multiple officers with military-grade weapons were caught on camera kicking, slapping and whipping the helpless villagers.
Activists claim the incident took place in the Kotankauk village in Rakhine State, where every male villager over the age of 8 was rounded by the security forces and abused for more than two days.
“It's telling that these local officers apparently felt so at ease in what they were doing that they had no hesitation in filming it,” Phil Robertson from the Human Rights Watch told CNN. “If the police feel so immune that they film themselves inflicting such brutal beatings, one wonders what other horrors might be taking place off camera that they were not willing to record.”
It is the first time Myanmar has announced such investigation since deadly attacks on police in October.
The office of Aung San Suu Kyi — Myanmar's de facto leader who has faced heavy criticism for her failure to stop the state-sanctioned violence against a persecuted minority — has detained four officers involved in the operation.
Zaw Myo Htike, the guard who filmed the video, has also been arrested.
“Those who [were] initially identified were detained,” a government representative said in a statement. “Further investigations are being carried out to expose other police officers who beat villagers in the operation.”
The violence and genocide in Myanmar has forced thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee the atrocities and cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh — yet Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, doesn’t seem to be taking any concrete steps to put an end to the apparent ethnic cleansing.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters