Conflicts & War

Myanmar army probes alleged torture of Arakan detainees

Yangon, Myanmar, May 13 (efe-epa).- A viral video which appears to show soldiers from the Myanmar army beating five detainees has triggered an investigation by the armed forces.

The video, of unknown origin, shows soldiers brutally beating five people accused of belonging to the Arakan Army (AA), an insurgent group in Rakhine State fighting for greater autonomy and labelled a terrorist organization by the Myanmar government in late March, in the cabin of a ship.

“We are going to investigate the case and find out who carried out these illegal interrogations,” the army, known as Tatmadaw, announced on Tuesday in a statement.

Tatmadaw confirmed the footage was taken aboard a boat that was transporting the detainees to the capital of the state Sittwe to put them on trial, after being arrested in the town of Kyaukseik on 21 April.

The five detainees have been confirmed as ethnic Rakhine residents of Kyaukseik Village in Ponnagyun Township, Rakhine State, by family members.

AA was created in 2009 by a group of predominantly ethnic Rakhine Buddhist militants fighting for state autonomy, like many other armed groups representing ethnic minorities in the country, many of whom have been fighting against the central government since Myanmar’s independence in 1948.

The Tatmadaw-AA conflict flared up in November 2018 and has displaced 150,000 people from their homes in the state and killed hundreds of others.

On Sunday Tatmadaw announced a three-month ceasefire with various guerrillas fighting for greater autonomy in the peripheral regions of the country but did not include AA in its cessation of hostilities given its status as a terrorist group.

The only other armed group, of the dozens operating in Myanmar, classified as a terrorist organization is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which represents the Rohingya Muslim minority who have been stripped of their citizenship and who the government label Bengali immigrants.

After a series of ARSA attacks in August 2017 in northern Arakan, the Burmese Army launched a brutal military campaign forcing the majority of Rohingya, over 730,000 people, to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

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