Burma soldiers 'burning bodies of Rohingya Muslims' to conceal evidence

Buddhist civilians participating in mass killings, says campaigner

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 04 September 2017 09:42 BST
Video shows Rohingya flee burning villages in Myanmar

Soldiers and civilians in Burma are attempting to cover up the massacre of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population by gathering their bodies and burning them, an advocate for the minority group has said.

Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which monitors violence in Burma’s Rakhine state, said her organisation had documented the killing of at least 130 people in one settlement in the Rathedaung region.

She added that there were reports of three other villages where “dozens” of people had been killed.

Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma recall the horrors they left

“A minimum of 130 people have been killed actually we think it’s more,” she told Newsday on the BBC World Service.

“The security forces have encircled villages and then [shot people] indiscriminately, but we also found that – compared perhaps to the violence that took place in October [and] November last year – there is more involvement of the local Buddhist population together with the military."

She added: "We have reports of at least three other villages where at least dozens of people have been killed."

“What we have found ... is that now after the killings the military and other civilians are actually gathering the dead bodies and burning them so [as] not to leave any evidence."

The reports had not yet been confirmed and the Arakan Project had not yet carried out detailed interviews with victims in Bangladesh, but it had monitors that that were "still active inside Myanmar”, she said.

Burmese security officials and insurgents from the Rohingya have accused each other of burning down villages and committing atrocities in Rakhine state.

Almost 400 people have died in the recent unrest, with campaigners accusing the Burmese military accused of committing crimes against humanity.

Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused Burma's forces of genocide

According to the UN's refugee agency an estimated 73,000 people have crossed the border into Bangladesh since violence flared on 25 August, leaving refugee camps near full capacity.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has called on Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's de facto leader, to condemn the “tragic and shameful” treatment of the Burma's Muslim Rohingya people.

Ms Yousafzai told her fellow laureate that the “world is waiting” for her to act over the unrest.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned Ms Suu Kyi that the treatment of the ethnic minority group was “besmirching” the country's reputation.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in