Does Exposing a Crime Mean a Crime?
By Aman Ullah
‘Seeing is believing’ is an idiom which believed to have first recorded in 1939 means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”.
It was happened in Burma also. Myanmar said that it has detained several police officers over a video shot by a fellow policeman that shows them beating Rohingya civilians, a rare admission of abuse against the Muslim minority.
The video that emerged over the weekend was harder for officials to play down.
Widely circulated on social media and picked up by local broadcasters, the minute-long clip shows dozens of male villagers seated on the ground with their hands behind their heads.
Uniformed police officers are seen beating and kicking two men repeatedly in the footage, which was captured on a cellphone by a helmeted policeman smoking a cigarette.
Dozens of videos have emerged apparently showing abuses against Rohingya, but this is the first time the government has said it will take action over them because for them seeing is believing.
The refugees’ stories have raised global alarm and galvanised protests against Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused of not doing enough to help the Rohingya.
Her government has said troops are hunting militants behind the deadly raids on police border posts, denying claims of atrocities with a flurry of public statements.
Human rights groups have presented evidence of crackdowns against demonstrators in the past, only to have Myanmar’s Government Issue blanket denials, said Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, an advocacy group in Southeast Asia.
The footage shows police hitting a young boy around the head as he walks to where dozens of villagers are lined up in rows seated on the ground, hands behind their heads.
Three officers in uniform then start attacking one of the sitting men, beating him with a stick and kicking him repeatedly in the face.
Analyst David Mathieson said the video “brings into sharp question the government’s denials of security forces abuses in Rakhine since October, when here is sadistic cinema verite of how they are treating the local Muslim population”.
Around 600 people have been detained since the start of the military operation, according to state media, including six who died in police custody in largely unexplained circumstances.
Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, said the video adds to a growing body of evidence of widespread abuse by security forces.
“Unfortunately the scene this video depicts isn’t unique or an isolated event,” he said. “Impunity still rules the day in Rakhine state.”
Myanmar has long discriminated against the stateless Rohingya, whom rights groups say are among the most persecuted peoples in the world.
More than 120,000 have been trapped in squalid displacement camps since violence erupted in 2012 in Rakhine, where they are denied citizenship, access to health care and education.
Over a dozen Nobel laureates wrote to the UN Security Council last week urging action to stop the “human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in northern Rakhine.
Under Myanmar’s junta-era constitution Suu Kyi’s civilian administration has limited power over the army, which maintains control of the defence, home and border ministries.
Suu Kyi’s office said the video was taken Nov. 5 in Kotankauk, a hamlet where villagers had staged a demonstration during a visit to the area by foreign diplomats. Rohingya activists said that police retaliated by detaining all males older than 8 for two days.
“Action will be taken against police who allegedly beat villagers,” Suu Kyi’s office said in a statement, identifying four officers by name.
The government said police were acting on information that villagers in Kotankauk were sheltering gunmen who had attacked police outposts 20 miles away two days earlier. Activist groups were skeptical, saying it would have been nearly impossible for Rohingya, whose movement is severely restricted, to travel such a distance given the heavy security presence in the state.
However, authorities yesterday pledged to take action “against police who allegedly beat villagers during area clearance operations on November 5 in Kotankauk village”.
Suu Kyi’s office named four officers involved in the operation including Constable Zaw Myo Htike, who looks nonchalantly into the camera smoking as he records the video.
“Those who [were] initially identified were detained,” it said in a statement. “Further investigations are being carried out to expose other police officers who beat villagers in the operation.”
Constable Zaw Myo Htike, who looks nonchalantly into the camera smoking as he records the video, was the man
who captured the video with his cell phone. He did no crime rather he tried to expose the crime.
Exposing a crime dose not mean a crime. He is a hero a human rights defender; we must say we take our hats off to him.