AUNG San Suu Kyi’s office says authorities will commence investigations into a video that appears to show members of the Burmese (Myanmar) army kicking and beating civilians, following concerns raised by rights groups.
The violent footage spread on social media last week was the second such clip to emerge in six months that shows the militia beating locals during interrogation in a conflict-region of northern Burma.
“We have found a 17-minute-long video on social media showing four civilians mistreated by some soldiers. International human rights organisations released statements about that on May 28,” Suu Kyi’s office said in a statement Wednesday.
“The government will now necessarily investigate the violations according to the current rules and regulations.”
According to Fortify Rights last weekend, the video surfaced first on Facebook, displaying a group of soldiers savagely beating six unidentified ethnic men held captive for unclear reasons.
The video, 17 minutes in length, reveals graphic moments of intensity where the army conducts a ferocious and shocking interrogation of the ethnic men.
The footage displays military officials continually threatening the captives with death, and abuse. In the beginning of the material, a commanding officer is seen beating one of the captives with the top of his helmet while violently demanding answers.
“Where are the guns?” the commanding officer yells while smashing his helmet into the face of one of the grounded detainees. The restrained man recoils from the blunt force, putting his face down while pleading with the military aggressor who continues to yell threats.
“Even though you don’t have a gun, you are still part of the resistance.” The officer again raises his helmet as he begins to attack the helpless detainee once again.
“If you say you don’t have anything, I’m going to break all your teeth.”
One soldier can be seen using a large machete-like knife to threaten the men who sit still with their hands bound tightly behind their backs.
The same officer additionally wields a knife next the men’s necks, yelling at the men to “speak Burmese”.
Throughout the video, the apparent officer, along with the help of his soldiers, continue to kick the bound men in their heads and faces. The commanding officer then says in a fury,
“If I don’t get [the information], I am going to kill everyone,”
Refusing to listen to captives’ pleading replies, the soldiers continue breaking international human rights laws as they repeatedly torture the men almost unconscious.
Towards the end of the video, not long before the footage cuts to black, the hostile commanding officer utters these chilling words:
“We won’t set you free.”
It appears from what the abusers are wearing that they are soldiers in the Burmese army. The footage shows the men wearing military fatigues with military patches that identify their particular unit.
According to Fortify Rights, a human rights group that documents such abuses, the unit’s badge numbers can be traced to their specific operating location. From their insignia, it appears the troops are from northern Shan State, a region also historically exposed to conflict.
The shocking footage reflects findings illustrated in a recent report by the Ta’ang Women’s Organisation (TWO), reopening the discussion of whether or not the army is indeed using torture tactics during interrogations. From March 2011 to March 2016, human rights organisations documented violations in Ta’ang areas of northern Shan State, adding weight to the evidence of war crimes taking place within the country.
According to TWO, the most common forms of torture used involved binding villagers, hitting them with fists or guns, and then kicking them in the face while they are seated.
The new video shows these accounts in detail, while mirroring the allegations in an eerie demonstration.
With more violence coming out of Burma in recent months, international groups have serious doubts about the country’s desire to move towards a position of genuine peace and equality.
“Silence in this case is not an option. Impunity is not an option,” said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive at Fortify Rights. “Perpetrators must be held accountable if there’s any hope for genuine peace in Burma.”
Burma’s leader Suu Kyi has continually refused to acknowledge the plight of the Rohingya in the country’s troubled Rakhine state, a region where reports of rape, torture, and murder are allegedly taking place in appalling numbers.
And with violence purportedly still continuing around the country, it seems almost certain that Burma will remain in a state of near-perpetual civil war for a much longer time.