By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA): The government of Myanmar said on Tuesday that four Rohingya villagers were found dead in a conflict-torn area of country’s western Rakhine state.
The Office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi said in a press release that the bodies of three women and a man were found buried near Luu Pan Pyin village in the Maungdaw area last Thursday, Feb. 16.
“Police are investigating who these victims are,” it said, adding that the three male bodies bore deep wounds, while the woman had no internal injuries.
The bodies were found a day after the government announced the end of military operations in the area predominantly occupied by members of the stateless Rohingya minority group.
Myanmar has been under international criticism for its military crackdown on Rohingya civilians in the northern part of Rakhine State, which has been under military lockdown since a gang killed nine police officers last October.
Following growing concerns over the violations of Rohingya Muslims’ rights, Myanmar ended the military operations on Feb. 15.
Soldiers and police have been accused of committing various forms of abuses including mass gang rapes, killings, brutal beatings, and disappearances in the area during the military operations since early October.
A recent report commissioned by UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stated that the rights violations against Rohingya civilians could constitute crimes against humanity.
Advocacy groups claim that hundreds of Rohingya — described by the UN as among the world’s most persecuted groups — were killed in the military operations. An estimated 66,000 Rohingya have crossed the border to Bangladesh since October, according to the UN, and there are 22,000 displaced within Myanmar.
During the operations, security forces have been accused of committing abuses such as mass gang-rape and killings, including children and babies, brutal beatings, the burning of villages, and disappearances
[Archive Photo: Destruction of houses by Myanmar Govt forces in Rakhine State. November 2016. Photograph by Human Rights Watch]