Investigation Report on Myanmar Soldiers Torturing Rakhine Civilians on Navy Ship That Videos Appeared on Social Media and Constituted War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

Screenshot photos from video on the Navy while they were cruelly torturing Rakhine villagers on the Navy on April 27, 2020
Sittway. May 11, 2020

Prologue 

This is first step investigation of Arakan Information Center (AiC) on the video clips appeared on social media on April 10 whereas Rakhine civilians were tortured in the navy boat. AiC is continuing further investigation in details and will release the second report. 

Introduction

Shocking video clips of government soldiers inhumanly torturing the Rakhine civilians appeared on social media and shared by tens of thousands of people throughout yesterday, May 10.

Arakan Information Center has investigated the videos who are the victims, where the perpetrators come from, who posted the video, why, and what crimes the security force committed, and who are accountable.

Confirmation of the Victims on the Videos 

Arakan Information Center verifies the victims’ families and friends in order to find their loved ones are on the videos and tortured. 

Representative of AiC speaks to Daw Ni Ni Aye, mother of Nyi Nyi Aung, this morning on May 11. She confirms, “I saw the videos from my relatives. He is my son, and they are the villagers who have been arrested in the village.” 

AiC also spoked to her in the morning of May 10, shortly after the video appeared on the social media, and she said, “I have not yet saw the video, but I met my son and his friends at the police station on Ponnaygun two days ago. He told me he was badly tortured and very sick now.” 

AiC tracked throughout the week and found out they were transferred to the police station in Ponnaygun on May 7 from Police Station No. 1 in Sittway. 

One of the villagers and friend of Nyi Nyi Aung, Myo Min Aung, and Maug Chay, keeping his name not to be published for personal security reason, confirms AiC three victims his friends on the videos. 

“I watch the videos. Three of my friends are from Kyauk Seik. Wearing the white color under-vest on the video is my friend Nyi Nyi Aung. He is wearing light green sport T-shirt and covering the green mask is my friend Myo Lin Oo. Maung Chay is also from Kyauk Seik,” he said. 

He said, “They told me at the police station they were tortured for one and half days on the navy while docking in the river.”  

Background

Several shells fired from Ponnaygun base Light Infantry Battalion 550 landed in Kyauk Seik on April 14 and killed eight villagers and injured 14 civilians. 

On April 20, 39 villagers including the village chairman and these five victims were arrested in the village and taken to the military base. They were tortured and interrogated for several days. 

On April 24, 32 villagers were released, but these five victims under mentioning were kept detaining in the base. 

On April 25, Nyi Nyi Aung, 24, Myo Lin Oo, 23, and Maung Chay, 32—all are from Kyauk Seik, Myo Min Aung, 37, from Ponnaygun, and Kyaw Win Than, 23, from Sittway were transferred to the police station in Ponnaygun.

At 8 o’clock in the morning on April 27, the soldiers from Sittway and LIB 550 pulled out the victims and taken by military trucks to the navy ship that was docking near Guwa Pagoda, about half mile from Kyauk Seik. 

The representative of AiC spoke to Nyi Nyi Aung’s mother by phone on April 27. She said, “My son and his friends are covered their faces with black cloth and taken to unknown location by the soldiers from Ponnaygun military base at 8 o’clock this morning. They are forced to sit in the military truck and drove to the Navy docking near the Guwa Pagoda and in the Kaladan River. Since then, they all are disappeared. I don’t know where my son is taken to. I worry my son may be killed and dumped into the water.” 

On April 29, Arakan Information Center followed up her to know the conditions of her son and other detainees. She said she talked to the Speaker of State Parliament and said they were kept in the military base in Sittway. “I spoke to the speaker and my son and his friends are detained in the military base in Sittway,” she said. 

AiC investigated where they were detained. A resident in Sittway, who does not want to publish his name, told the center they were transferred to Police Station No. 1 in Sittway on May 4. 

They have been transferred to the police in Ponnaygun on May 7. They are waiting to appear in the court. 

Daw Ni Ni Aye AiC today morning and said, “I met my son at the police station two days ago. He checked up medial and waiting for the results.”

Torture

The videos contain three clips. The first clip is boarding the victims on the navy with pagoda background. The second one is the soldiers waring civilian cloth questioning and beating. The third clip is length 2.45 minutes and the soldiers are cruelly and inhumanly torturing the victims.

Several soldiers kicked, biffed, hit, slapped, stepped, suffocated, racially insulted, threaten, and intimidated the villagers. 

One of the soldiers forced to confess they are members of Arakan Army and tells they will be killed if they don’t tell the truth. He said we will kill you all. One of the victim tells the soldier he is labor and does portering works. 

The victims may be critically injured internal and external parts of organs and bodies. They may be permanently paralyzed. They may not live longer.

They all need proper medical checkups and exams and further treatment in suitable hospitals. But they are placed in small cells of the jail at the police station. 

These all are inhumane treatment on the citizens by the state service men even though constitution assures for their citizenship rights. 

Who Posted the  Videos on Social Media?

There are two different accounts coming out of the videos appearance on the Facebook.

The first one the citizen reporters told our center is the videos posted from Rathedaung Media at first, the local citizen media monitoring the conflict in Rathedoung township. The citizen reporters said one of the social media administrators got the video clips from the relative who is navy sailor and filmed the incident and passed to him. Then he posted it on the Facebook. 

Several people sent the video clips via their email to the AiC email account on April 10 after public announcement was made and requested for direct report. AiC is sending it to IT experts for verification of meta data.  

Another account from the citizen reporters told us one of the soldiers who were participating in the torturing and stayed on the navy posted the videos on the social media. He posted the videos after he saw the video clip of Arakan Army attacking the military school in Minbya township on March 24 that appeared on social media. 

Who Are the Perpetrators?

Local citizens report that the soldiers who participated in the torturing are from Ponnaygun based LIB 550 and the sailors from Yay Chan Pyin Navy Station in Sittway township. All these identified soldiers and sailors on our report are required for further investigation. 

Some soldiers are identified as sergeants from Minbya base and from the military school and division headquarter number 9. According to the sources they are recently transferring to navy base in Yay Chan Pyin.  

The man wearing red color under-vest is Sergeant Nay Tun Lin from Ken Ni military station, Minbya township. His wife is Rakhine ethnic and lives in Shwe Mingan Ward in Sittway and has one and half years old daughter. 

The solder wearing bullet proof jacket over the T-shirt is Sergeant Yan Naing from Minbya based Division Headquarter No. 9. His wife is Rakhine ethnic and from Kyaukphyu. 

Legal Ground on National and International Laws 

One way or another, the videos are constituted Myanmar soldiers cruelly tortured the suspects and forced to confess without materials, witnesses evidence, testimonies, and before the court. 

These inhumane tortures are clearly proved that Myanmar army is breaching Geneva Convention Protocols, international humanitarian laws, and national laws. They even breached its own army rule of engagement and procedure. In fact, these soldiers committed war crimes and crimes against humanities.  

First, these suspected were not caught in the battle. They were illegally arrested in the village by the military personals without accompanied by police, township and village officials, and court warrant that is mandatory requirement by law in Myanmar. 

Second, they were initially tortured in the military base for several days since they were arrested. Later, they were handed over to the police and filed charges in the court. But the soldiers just came to the police station and took them away without the court order. 

Third, the soldiers illegally detained the suspects on the navy for one and half days and inhumanly tortured while docking in the river, out of crime suspect location and legal jurisdiction.

All of these criminal and civil laws and procedural laws breaching turn over the suspects as victimized and victims. 

Fourth, the soldiers took them to the military base in Sittway and tortured again for several more days. 

Fifth, the soldiers handed over the victims to the police in Sittway without counsel representations and after more than 24 hours detention.

Finally, the police from Sittway transferred the victims to the police in Ponnaygun where they were filed legal charges before the court that is also breaching the procedural laws. 

All these acts and conducts are cruel and unusual torturing and breaking the laws. In fact, all of these wrong doing are crimes in military and civilian laws in Myanmar. 

These require further investigations and prosecutions on the perpetrators at national and international courts. 

In the end, the heads of the state, both government and Tatmdaw, are legally accountable for crimes.  

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