Myanmar, seven soldiers jailed for extrajudicial executions of Rohingya

The Myanmar army has condemned a group of soldiers for human rights violations against the Rohingya people for the first time ever.

Seven soldiers have been sentenced to ten years in prison In Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) on 10 April for having taken part in a massacre of the Muslim Rohingya population. This has been announced by the army itself, an unprecedented event since the beginning of the crisis.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh © Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

The army denies there’s a plan for an ethnic cleansing

General Min Aung Hlaing has confirmed that “four officers and three soldiers were denounced and permanently dismissed from the military and sentenced to prison”, through a note published on a social network. This punishment carries an enormous symbolic value, since the Rohingya have been persecuted for many years. The first violent acts against this population occurred in 2012, and since then around 700,000 people were forced to escape their home lands.

The army has admitted that these soldiers carried out a series of “extrajudicial executions”, but denied this had anything to do with a plan for an ethnic cleansing (an accusation brought forth by the United Nations). The Rohingya were killed in cold blood, even though they were already being held prisoners, representing a blatant violation of human rights.

The Myanmar army has acknowledged cases of extrajudicial executions against the Rohingya for the first time © Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The journalists who revealed the massacre are still on trial

The soldiers were punished for the events that took place in the village of Inn Dinn, this incident was reported to the whole world by the Reuters news agency. The two journalists who followed this story, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were arrested in Myanmar last December and put on trial. The first news on the court’s decision arrived on 11 April: despite the international pressure, their charges were confirmed. Specifically, those for the “violation of the state’s Official Secrets Act.”

The judge declared that “the court has decided to reject the defence’s request to release the accused”, in front of a courtroom filled with diplomats and journalists. The two reporters are facing up to 14 years in prison: the trial will be resumed on 20 April.

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