Myanmar has sentenced seven soldiers to “10 years in prison with hard labor in a remote area” for their role in the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims last September, which was only one instance of violence in a much wider campaign of atrocities targeting minority Muslims in the country.
According to Press TV, the Myanmarese military made the announcement about the seven soldiers in a statement published on the Facebook page of Myanmar Army’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s office on Tuesday.
The statement said that the convicted soldiers had had “action taken against them” for “contributing and participating in murder.”
The statement also said that legal proceedings against the police officers and civilians “involved in the crime” were still ongoing.
Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs, with the quiet backing of the government, have killed thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Western Rakhine State, in what has been described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing.” Hundreds of thousands of other Rohingyas have survived only by fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
But the September 2017 massacre in Rakhine’s Inn Dinn Village attracted particular international media attention because the two journalists who had been assigned by Reuters to report on the incident were soon arrested by Myanmarese authorities.
In February, Reuters confirmed that investigative journalists Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe-oo, 27, had been arrested because of attempting to cover the Inn Dinn Village massacre.
The two journalists were charged with violating the country’s “Official Secrets Act.”
Myanmar has blockaded Rakhine since late 2016; and independent media are barred from entering, much less reporting on the horrific atrocities that have been ongoing there, including murders, rapes, and the torching of Rohingya villages.
Despite the Myanmarese military’s attempts to portray the prosecution of the seven soldiers as the result of an “independent” investigation, it is likely that the sentences were issued only because of the unexpected media attention that came after the arrest of the two Reuters journalists.
Reuters subsequently published the incomplete report by its two journalists, who remain in custody.