The horrendous truth is out and well might the Myanmar army claim credit for Wednesday’s exposure. And yet the junta-sponsored “breaking news” must be tempered with the thought that it comes awfully late in the day… after enough Rohingyas have died and many more have suffered cruel and barbarous persecution at the hands of the military, not to forget the Buddhist reprisal. In a rare moment of candour which, to be sure, hasn’t quite impressed the democratic world, the army has admitted to the killing of ten Rohingyas in the coastal village of Inn Din. Not that the pogrom was unknown to the world; it is the admission on a very very limited scale that lends a new dimension to the tragedy of the Rohingyas. To suggest, in the manner of the omnipotent junta, that it was a retaliatory strike is a strained defence of an ugly truth.
The victims have been described as terrorists on the rather specious plea that they were preparing to attack the security forces with sticks and swords. Rightly has Amnesty International trashed the military’s admission as the “tip of the iceberg”, and the message ought to resonate in the portals of the GHQ in Yangon. By any reckoning, the military’s statement has, on the face of it, been a grisly admission. It is without question a critical departure from its consistent policy of denial of any wrongdoing.
The admission would seem to be superficial unless it is substantiated with serious independent investigation into what other atrocities were committed amid the ethnic cleansing that has forced out more than 655,000 Rohingya Muslims to escape from Rakhine state since last August. Details will remain fogbound if the GHQ is not suitably explicit… now that the military has hinted at its involvement. The army has placed itself on test, as must have the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi who would have reaped international goodwill had she taken the lid off a pretty kettle of fish.
James Gomez, Amnesty International’s regional director for South-east Asia and the Pacific, has ripped the military apart with a pregnant statement ~ “It is appalling that soldiers attempted to justify extrajudicial executions by saying the troops were needed as reinforcements elsewhere and did not know what to do with the men. Such behaviour shows a contempt for human life which is simply beyond comprehension.”
He has succinctly summed up the army’s dealings with the Rohingyas, which the world can neither forgive nor forget. The ten men had been thrown alive into a mass grave and stabbed by Buddhist villagers. Soldiers then shot them dead. Flagrantly violated were the legal certitudes of military intervention in matters domestic. Wednesday’s horribly belated statement by the Myanmar army shall not lessen the enormity of the tragedy.