Revealed: Evidence of Rohingya massacre in Myanmar

9 February 2018, 01:07

Disturbing photographs have shed light on a massacre of 10 Rohingya men shot and hacked to death as violence in Myanmar gathered momentum in September.

Released by Reuters news agency as part of an ongoing investigation, the photographs show 10 men tied together in a line, facing the camera.

The same men can then be seen in a tangled and bloody mound, clearly the victims of a violent death.

They offer evidence of a massacre believed to have taken place on the morning of 2 September last year, after the arrival of troops in the village of Inn Din drove its Rohingya inhabitants to flee.

Reporting on the massacre by Reuters has led to the arrest of two of the agency's journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who remain in prison under accusations of breaking Myanmar's official secrets act.

The village of Inn Din was burned and looted by army, police and an informal militia, according to witnesses, before the 10 men were executed and dumped in a shallow grave.

Witnesses have said they were either shot by Myanmar troops or hacked to death by villagers.

Sky News correspondent Ashish Joshi, who has visited Rohingya refugee camps, said: "The men were forced to watch as their Buddhist neighbours dug a shallow grave.

"One of the photograph shows the men kneeling in a row...the last one shows the men's bloodied bodies piled in the grave."

US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in her response said the report "highlights the ongoing and urgent need for Burmese authorities to cooperate with an independent, credible investigation into allegations of atrocities in northern Rakhine".

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The killings closely followed a series of attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar police posts and an army base, that are thought to have sparked the extreme violence currently ongoing in Myanmar.

In what international observers including the United Nations have said amounts to ethnic cleansing, the Myanmar military and militias have since driven out hundreds of thousands of the country's Rohingya minority in a campaign of killings, burning and rape.

Government spokesperson Zaw Htay did not deny the allegations and said the government would investigate if presented with evidence of human rights violations.

He defended the military operation in Rakhine, saying "the international community needs to understand who did the first terrorist attacks".

A January statement by the Burmese army on the massacre of the 10 men said security forces were "attacked by about 200 Bengalis with sticks and swords", and the security forces had opened fire into the sky, arresting 10 of the villagers while the remainder dispersed.

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Many Burmese refer to Rohingya people using the term "Bengali", denoting they regard them as unwanted immigrants from Bangladesh.

The army account is disputed by other witnesses, who agree that the military did not face a large-scale assault from villagers.

The investigation is a grim detail in a campaign of violence that has seen 688,000 of the Muslim Rohingya population fleeing to camps in Bangladesh.

While a plan has been outlined for their return observers have expressed serious doubts over whether their safety can be guaranteed.

The group of murdered men have been named as Dil Mohammed, 35, Nur Mohammed, 29, Shoket Ullah, 35, Habizu, 40, and Shaker Ahmed, 45, who were fishermen and fish sellers; high school students Abul Hashim, 17, and Rashid Ahmed, 18; storekeepers Abul Hashim, 25, and Abdul Majid, 45; and Islamic teacher Abdul Malik, 30.

Reuters have met with the families of the men, who say they are struggling to accept the death of their loved ones.