An US government investigation has found that Myanmar’s military waged a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Southeast Asian nation’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
The U.S. State Department report, which was released on September 24, could be used to justify further U.S. sanctions or other punitive measures against Myanmar authorities, U.S. officials told Reuters.
But it stopped short of describing the crackdown as genocide or crimes against humanity, an issue that other U.S. officials said was the subject of fierce internal debate that delayed the report’s rollout for nearly a month.
The report, which was first reported by Reuters, resulted from more than a thousand interviews of Rohingya men and women in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, where almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled after a military campaign last year in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
“The survey reveals that the recent violence in northern Rakhine State was extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorizing the population and driving out the Rohingya residents,” according to the 20-page report. “The scope and scale of the military’s operations indicate they were well-planned and coordinated.”
Survivors described in harrowing detail what they had witnessed, including soldiers killing infants and small children, the shooting of unarmed men, and victims buried alive or thrown into pits of mass graves. They told of widespread sexual assault by Myanmar’s military of Rohingya women, often carried out in public.