Myanmar military committing war crimes in Rakhine

(ALJAZEERA) – Human rights group calls for situation in Rakhine state to be referred to International Criminal Court (ICC), sanctions.

The same units of the Myanmar military that in 2017 were implicated in a brutal crackdown that drove hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya from the country are again committing war crimes as they step up their campaign against ethnic Rakhine rebels, Amnesty International has said.

The conflict in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state escalated in January after 13 police officers were killed in a co-ordinated attack by the Arakan Army, prompting the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi to order the armed forces to “crush” the group, which recruits from the largely-Buddhist ethnic Rakhine community.

In a new report on Wednesday, Amnesty said its investigations showed war crimes and human rights violations were being committed by soldiers from the Rakhine-based Western Command, which was also implicated in atrocities against the Rohingya in August 2017.

Victims also identified soldiers from the Myanmar Army’s 22nd and 55th Light Infantry Divisions, units that usually operate in other parts of the country.

“Less than two years since the world outrage over the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population, the Myanmar military is again committing horrific abuses against ethnic groups in Rakhine state,” Nicholas Bequelin, regional director for East and Southeast Asia at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“The new operations in Rakhine state show an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military terrorising civilians and committing widespread violations as a deliberate tactic.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya, a minority ethnic group denied citizenship by Myanmar, were driven into Bangladesh in the bloody crackdown in 2017. A United Nations fact-finding mission has called for the prosecution of top Myanmar generals for crimes against humanity and genocide over the violence.

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