AUTHORITIES in Burma (Myanmar) on Monday vowed to take action against policemen who allegedly assaulted villagers from the persecuted Rohingya community, following the release of a video showing officers abusing several people during an operation recently.
According to the AFP, the footage spread over social media recently showed police officers hitting a boy on the head as he walked to a group of dozens of villagers who had been rounded up in rows and seated on the ground, with their hands behind their heads.
A statement by state media said action would be taken against the policemen who purportedly beat up villagers during an area clearance operation in Kotankauk village in the restive Rakhine state on Nov 5.
The ‘selfie-styled’ footage filmed by an officer named constable Zaw Myo Htike also showed officers setting upon a man who was sitting down. The victim is seen being hit with a stick and kicked in the face by several officers.
The announcement on Monday marks the first time authorities have pledged to take action although dozens of videos showing alleged abuse of Rohingya have emerged in recent months, prompting angry calls from neigbouring governments and rights groups to end the violence and blockade of aid to the impoverished state.
Warning: The following video contains graphic footage.
A Rohingya activist who spoke to the AFP from a refugee camp nearby, Shilkhali, had verified the footage.
More than 30,000 people have fled to Bangladesh, escaping the violence which has renewed international criticism that Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has done too little to help the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Burma.
At least 86 people have been killed in a military crackdown in Rakhine State, launched after attacks on police posts near the border with Bangladesh on Oct 9.
The recent violence is the most serious bloodshed since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine State in 2012.
The government of predominantly Buddhist Burma has blamed Muslim Rohingyas supported by foreign militants for the coordinated attacks which killed nine police officers.
Additional reporting by Reuters