CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 21 April 2018

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Fury over mass killing of Rohingya by Myanmar military

DHAKA (UCAN): The military of the Union of Myanmar admitted for the first time that its soldiers, along with Buddhist villagers were responsible for the murder of 10 alleged Muslim terrorists at Inn Din village in Rakhine last September during a counter-insurgency operation.
 
A statement issued on January 10 said, “Villagers and members of the security forces have confessed that they committed murder.”
 
The admission has sparked fury and demands for a proper probe and justice from refugees, rights advocates and Church officials in Bangladesh.
 
On 18 December 2017, the Myanmese military announced that a mass grave containing 10 bodies had been found in Inn Din, 50 kilometres north of Rakhine capital, Sittwe.
 
The Myanmese military launched a brutal clearance operation against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine following 25 August 2017 attacks on 30 security checkpoints and an army base by militants. The crackdown saw hundreds killed, dozens of women raped and hundreds of Rohingya villages burned down by the military and extremist Buddhists.
 
More than 650,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh for safety,
 
“The military is a mass murderer and it must face prosecution and punishment. Admitting killing 10 Rohingya is a bad joke and an eyewash attempt,” Muhammad Sakera Rohingya refugee living in Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, said.
 
He accused the military of trying to save face under mounting international pressure and evade charges of genocide by putting a few soldiers on trial as scapegoats.
 
“Every senior officer and foot solider responsible for violence against Rohingya must be held, every case must be properly investigated and they must face exemplary punishment through acceptable trial,” Sakera said.
 
Osman Gani, from the Buthidaung area, said he witnessed the military and Buddhists shoot and stab 20 Rohingya to  death.
 
“The military killed thousands of Rohingya like animals. Admitting killing 10 does not mean anything. We want to see the military as whole face trial for crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya,” Gani said, who has been living in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar since October with his family.
 
Bishop Gervas Rozario, of Rajshahi in Bangladesh, and chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission, called for strong international pressure for justice over atrocities against the Rohingya.
 
“The world knows what the military has done to (the) Rohingya and now, by admitting the crime, the military is trying to save face. The international community should not be complacent but continue to press for a fair trial and justice over violence against Rohingya,” he said.
 
Rights activist Nasiruddin, former secretary of Dhaka-based Odhikar (Rights), echoed those views, saying, “For too long the international community … they only started to speak out when these people were facing genocide. The international community is divided and not doing much to help Myanmar.” 
 
He said admitting the to killings will be meaningless if the world does no act “to ensure justice and end the Rohingya’s plight.”

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