In an internal report released Monday, the military blamed the violence on the members of an armed group, now calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which it said had attacked 30 police posts and an army battalion headquarters on August 25.
“Security forces did not commit shooting at innocent villagers and sexual violence and rape cases against women. They did not arrest, beat and kill the villagers,” the report said.
Posted on the military’s official Facebook page, the report also cleared security forces of robbing the Rohingya, as well as burning their mosques and villages.
Amnesty International described the report as an attempt by the military to “sweep serious violations against the Rohingya under the carpet.”
“There is overwhelming evidence that the military has murdered and raped Rohingya and burned their villages to the ground,” the UK-based international rights group said.
“After recording countless stories of horror and using satellite analysis to track the growing devastation we can only reach one conclusion: these attacks amount to crimes against humanity.”
In a CNN report published Monday, Mumtaz, a Rohingya refugee woman from the village of Tula Toli in western Myanmar, described surviving mass killings and rape before reaching the relative safety of the camps, where conditions are dire.
“They killed and killed and piled the bodies up high. It was like cut bamboo,” said Mumtaz, who woke up to find herself on a mound of charred bodies.
“In the pile there was someone’s neck, someone’s head, someone’s leg. I was able to come out, I don’t know how,” she added.
On Sunday, a UN official, who had toured the refugee camps in Bangladesh, accused the military of conducting organized rape and other crimes against humanity in Rakhine.
In a rare move, Myanmar’s military recently arranged a helicopter trip for foreign media to Maungdaw district, which is now a landscape devoid of people. The region, with the emerald paddy fields scarred by the blackened patches of destroyed Rohingya villages, is the epicenter of a crisis that erupted in late August.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the predominantly-Buddhist country of Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25, when a crackdown on the Rohingya intensified in Rakhine. The government has been engaged in a campaign against the minority, which the UN and human rights groups have called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”