BANGKOK — Human rights advocates are calling on Myanmar’s government to investigate a video that appears to show soldiers kicking, beating and threatening to kill six captives.
The video, which seems to show the soldiers repeatedly kicking the men in the head as they interrogate them, surfaced on Facebook over the weekend. Based on the speakers’ accents, the military uniforms and the place names mentioned, it appears to have been shot in Shan State, where rebels are fighting government forces.
The 17-minute video appears to show soldiers abusing prisoners.
Video by shawnglamshiga
“The government should investigate, and they should hold the perpetrators accountable,” Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, an advocacy group based in Thailand, said on Tuesday. “This is one of the rare cases where we can see the soldiers committing torture in one of the conflict zones. It is certainly incumbent on the authorities to take action.”
Spokesmen for the Ministry of Defense and for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar’s government, said on Tuesday that they were too busy to answer questions about the video.
The Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has been battling ethnic rebels for decades in many parts of the country.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has made establishing peace a high priority since she took office last year, but in many areas the fighting has only increased. A peace conference that she convened in a bid to achieve national reconciliation ended this weekend without substantial progress.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has no authority over the armed forces under the Constitution, drafted by the military, which ruled the country outright for decades.
The video is the second in recent months that appears to show security forces in Myanmar abusing captives. A video that surfaced in December seemed to depict border police officers in the state of Rakhine beating two unarmed men, members of the persecuted Rohingya minority. That video led to the arrest of four officers.
Mr. Smith said he believed the episode captured in the latest video had occurred recently, and he expressed concern about the welfare of the captives.
Men are shown tied up and sitting on the ground in the 17-minute video, which appears to have been shot by a member of a local militia who speaks with a Shan accent. It is unclear how it ended up on Facebook.
One officer, apparently in command, questions the men about weapons. He hits one in the face with a helmet, shouting, “Where are the guns?”
“Even though you don’t have a gun, you are still part of the resistance,” the officer says, according to a translation provided by Fortify Rights. “If you say you don’t have anything, I’m going to break all your teeth.”
The interrogators kick and strike the men and threaten to kill them if they do not comply. “I will cut your throat and kill you,” one soldier says.
At one point, the officer tells a detainee that if they find guns, he will cut out his tongue. At another point, he waves a machete and threatens to cut a captive’s throat.
Just before the video ends, he warns, “We won’t set you free.”