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Recent confessions of four former Myanmar soldiers about their involvement in massacres, rape, and other crimes against the Rohingyas have become a strong proof to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and it could be a turning point of justice for the Rohingyas. An ethnic armed group of Rakahine, Arakan Army(AA) filmed Myo Win Tun’s confession on July 23, 2020 and filmed Zaw Naing Tun’s confession on July 8, 2020. Two video clips showing the confessions of Private Myo Win Tun of Myanmar Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 565 and Private Zaw Naing Tun of (LIB) 353 have been released in different news portals. LIBs were operational in the Rakhine State during the military-led “clearance operations” against Rohingya civilians in 2016 and 2017. Zaw Naing Tun confessed of killings, burying bodies in mass graves, and other crimes against Rohingya Muslims in five villages of Maungdaw Township during the 2017 “clearance operations.” Myo Win Tun described his involvement in killing Rohingya women, men, and children, and he admitted to raping women in Taung Bazar village and surrounding villages in Buthidaung Township in September 2017. Myo Win Tun also said, the colonel in charge told the troops in Myanmar’s 565th light infantry battalion to wipe out the Rohingya villagers in the area and ordered them to “shoot all that you see and all that you hear,”. The soldiers provided the names and ranks of 19 direct perpetrators from the Myanmar Army, including themselves, as well as six senior commanders whom they claim ordered or contributed to atrocious crimes against Rohingya. Both soldiers talked without emotion in a flat monotone, described how the troops from all ranks raped Rohingya women before destroying the villages.
According to various reports, analysis, evidences and circumstantial proofs of different organizations to the UN some 750,000 Rohingyas fled away to Bangladesh due to brutal military campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017. Since then this is the first time some of the perpetrators have confessed of the massacres and rapes. In February this year, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where the Gambia filed a case accusing Myanmar of genocide against the Rohingyas. These confessions demonstrate that the Myanmar Army is a well-functioning national army operating with a specific and centralized command structure.
Canadian lawyer representing the Gambia in ICJ Payam Akhavan said, the two men had appeared at a border post requesting the protection of the government and had confessed to the mass murder and rape of Rohingya civilians in 2017. But taking the two men to the ICC’s custody requires the judges’ permission. However, the ICC prosecution can hold them confidentially for the sake of investigation.
An international fact-finding team appointed by the United Nations concluded that top military commanders in Myanmar should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and other crimes against humanity. According to the investigators, the crimes were included murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement; about 200 Rohingya villages were razed from 2017 to 2019.