The same units of the Myanmar military, which were involved in a brutal crackdown in 2017 displacing hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya, are again committing war crimes as they step up their campaign against ethnic Rakhine rebels
The Conflict in the Rakhine State, Myanmar, escalated in January after 13 police officers were killed in a coordinated attack by the Arakan Army. This prompted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi to persuade the armed forces to "throw down". In a new report released on Wednesday Amnesty said that the investigation showed that war crimes and human rights violations were committed by Rakhine soldiers. Westkommando, who was also involved in atrocities against the Rohingya in August 201
The victims also identified soldiers of the 22 Myanmar army. and 55 . Light Infantry Divisions, units normally used in other parts of the country.
Rebels hit Myanmar forces, thousands displaced (2:29).
"Less than Two Years Since the global outcry over the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population, the Myanmar military is once again committing terrible abuses against ethnic groups in the state of Rakhine," said Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia at Amnesty International. in a statement.
"The new operations in Rakhine State show that an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military is terrorizing civilians and committing widespread offenses as a deliberate tactic."
More than 730,000 Rohingya, an ethnic minority group denied citizenship of Myanmar was driven to Bangladesh in 2017 on the bloody crackdown. A United Nations Mission has called for criminal prosecution. the most important generals of Myanmar for crimes against humanity and genocide of violence.
"Run for My Life"
The recent unrest in which the military is now focusing attention on the Arakan army, an estimated group of 7,000 fighters fighting for more autonomy, according to Amnesty displaced more than 30,000 people from their homes.
"There is a continuing culture of impunity," said Laura Haigh, the researcher of the Amnesty report, to Al Jazeera.
"It's not just bad eggs," Haigh said. "This is a systematic, institutionalized problem of the Myanmar military that can not be remedied by sanctioning a few soldiers, and this is not a country that feels in any way, in any form or in any way accountable."
In April, the United Nations said it was " disrupted " by reports of persistent attacks on civilians in the troubled state.
In their report No one can protect us: war crimes and Amnesty urges the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and impose an arms embargo. It also calls for sanctions against high-ranking officials.
Based on 81 interviews with villagers of various ethnic groups and religions in Rakhine, as well as conversations with humanitarian representatives, activists and the media, as well as the analysis of photographs and satellite imagery. Amnesty described extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, torture and enforced disappearance.
The army was allegedly involved in at least seven unlawful attacks, killing 14 civilians and injuring 29 civilians. In an incident in late January, a seven-year-old boy had been injured after being denied access to emergency medical treatment following a mortar attack.
In another incident in mid-March, a mortar attack wounded four people and destroyed the house of Hla Shwe Maung. Satellite images confirmed that a building was destroyed.
"I've heard an explosion," said Hla Shwe Maung, 37, an ethnic Rakhine, to Amnesty. "It was very loud and there was a big fireball falling around us, so I grabbed my daughter in the arms … when we looked back, half the roof of our house was gone." Attack on civilians cutting bamboo. At least six people, including boys, were killed and 13 injured.
"The helicopter came from behind the mountain," said a survivor of Amnesty's researchers. "Within a few minutes, it fired missiles, I ran for my life and thought about my family and how I would survive."
"Climate of Fear with the Arakan Army "
Amnesty noted that the Myanmar military's strategy to deny rebel groups access to" food, funds, intelligence services, and new recruits "had a significant impact on the local population in both Rakhine and the neighboring state of Chin ,
The Chin Human Rights Organization ( CHRO) reported increased cases of forced labor among villagers in the southern part of Rakhine's bordering state last week. The village leaders told CHRO, a group dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Chinese people, that they feared retaliation and did not want to ignore the local community's demand to act as a carrier on a smaller scale – by the Arakan community. Army said Amnesty.
"The local population is caught between two forces," Haigh said. "We have this terrible military abuse, but there is also a climate of fear among the Arakan army, they are always normal people suffering from it." However, the Council of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defense Services received no answer.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay could not be contacted by phone on Tuesday and did not respond to a written message requesting a comment. The Military's True News Unit did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment.
The government has responded to reports of military attacks by restricting access to Rakhine and restricting the media.
Criminal charges were filed against at least three media in Myanmar, while Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were released this month after spending more than 500 days in jail for massacring 10 men and boys Rohingya at the Inn Din had reported during the suppression of 2017.
The seven soldiers convicted of involvement in these killings were released early release after less than a year in prison.
"The Tatmadaw [military] have massively covered up their crimes against humanity and the genocide of Rohingya," said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. "The only reason these seven soldiers were arrested is that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo uncovered these cold-blooded murders in an undeniable investigative message."
"Above all, the premature release of these seven soldiers reveals General Commanders Sr. Min Aung Hlaing and Tatmadaw do not really consider the Rohingya as human beings and never wanted to hold anyone accountable for their crimes in Rakhine State.
Additional coverage by Josh Carroll