Arrested Reuters reporters: The massacre they investigated
Thursday 8 February 2018
Reuters published an investigation into a massacre in Myanmar that left 10 Rohingya Muslims dead in a mass grave. This is the investigation that prompted Myanmar police to arrest two Reuters reporters - Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (photo).
They were detained on 12 December for allegedly obtaining confidential documents relating to Rakhine State, where anti-Rohingya violence has taken place.
Reuters has pieced together what happened in the village of Inn Din in the days leading up to the killing of the 10 Rohingya - eight men and two students in their late teens - on 2 September. Until now, accounts of the violence against the Rohingya in Rakhine state have been provided only by its victims.
The Reuters reconstruction draws for the first time on interviews with Buddhist villagers who confessed to torching Rohingya homes, burying bodies and killing Muslims. This account also marks the first time soldiers and paramilitary police have been implicated by testimony from security personnel themselves. Members of the paramilitary police gave Reuters insider descriptions of the operation to drive out the Rohingya from Inn Din, confirming that the military played the lead role in the campaign.
Scores of interviews with Rakhine Buddhist villagers, soldiers, paramilitary police, Rohingya Muslims and local administrators further revealed:
- The military and paramilitary police organised Buddhist residents of Inn Din and at least two other villages to torch Rohingya homes, more than a dozen Buddhist villagers said. Eleven Buddhist villagers said Buddhists committed acts of violence, including killings. The government and army have repeatedly blamed Rohingya insurgents for burning villages and homes.
- An order to “clear” Inn Din’s Rohingya hamlets was passed down the command chain from the military, said three paramilitary police officers speaking on condition of anonymity and a fourth police officer at an intelligence unit in the regional capital Sittwe. Security forces wore civilian clothes to avoid detection during raids, one of the paramilitary police officers said.
- Some members of the paramilitary police looted Rohingya property, including cows and motorcycles, in order to sell it, according to village administrator Maung Thein Chay and one of the paramilitary police officers.
- Operations in Inn Din were led by the army’s 33rd Light Infantry Division, supported by the paramilitary 8th Security Police Battalion, according to four police officers, all of them members of the battalion.