Hundreds of Rohingya Muslim villagers in Myanmar have been massacred and buried in 5 mass graves, a new report reveals.
A Thursday report by AP confirmed the existence of the graves around the village of Gu Dar Pyin in Muslim-majority Rakhine state, through interviews with more than two dozen survivors in Bangladesh refugee camps and time-stamped mobile phone videos.
The AP findings suggest not only the military’s slaughter of civilians but the presence of many more graves with many more people.
400 bodies in mass graves
Myanmar has cut off access to Gu Dar Pyin, so it is unclear how many people died, but satellite images obtained by AP from DigitalGlobe show a devastated village.
Community leaders have compiled a list of 75 dead so far, and villagers estimate the toll could be as high as 400, based on evidence from relatives and the bodies they have seen in the graves and strewn about the area.
Almost every villager interviewed by AP saw three large mass graves at Gu Dar Pyin’s northern entrance, near the main road, where witnesses say soldiers herded and killed most of the Rohingya.
HRW urges UN-led arms embargo on Myanmar
Phil Robertson of Human Rights said the report "raises the stakes for the international community to demand accountability from Myanmar" and underlined the need for a UN-led arms embargo on the country.
"The AP's report that (soldiers) brought along to Gu Dyar Pin village containers of acid to disfigure the bodies and make identification more difficult is particularly damning because it shows a degree of pre-planning of these atrocities," Robertson said.
"It's time for EU and the US to get serious about identifying and leveling targeted sanctions against the Burmese military commanders and soldiers responsible for these rights crimes."
The UN special envoy on human rights in Myanmar said the military’s violent operations against Rohingya Muslims bear “the hallmarks of a genocide”.
Yanghee Lee told reporters in Seoul that she could not make a definitive declaration about genocide until a credible international tribunal or court had weighed the evidence, but “we are seeing signs and it is building up to that”.
Ms Lee said she did not have specific details on Gu Dar Pyin, but added: “You can see it’s a pattern.”
Almost 870,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, including about 660,000 who arrived after August 25 1017, when the Myanmar army started a new round of violence against this minority group. Last month, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF said that at least 6,700 members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority group were killed in ongoing state-sponsored ethnic only in a period of one month beginning on August 25.
UN investigators have heard Rohingya testimony of a “consistent, methodical pattern of killings, torture, rape and arson”.
Last December, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein said genocide charges could be brought against Myanmar following the country’s campaign against the country's Rohingya Muslims.
He noted that attacks on the Rohingya had been “well thought out and planned” and he had asked Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to stop the military atrocities.
Zeid has already called the campaign “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and asked rhetorically if anyone could rule out “elements of genocide”.