Private myo win tun looked steadily into the camera as he recounted two weeks in August 2017 when he and his battalion laid waste to several villages in Rakhine, a state in the far west of Myanmar. They were there, he said, as part of the Burmese army’s “clearance operations” targeting the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim ethnic minority, which sparked the exodus of more than 740,000 Rohingyas to neighbouring Bangladesh. Mr Myo Win Tun confessed to participating in the massacre of 30 Rohingyas, whom he helped to bury in a mass grave, and to raping one woman. In another video, Private Zaw Naing Tun said that his battalion “wiped out about 20 Muslim villages”, and that he stood sentry while his superiors raped women. Based on their accounts, Fortify Rights, a human-rights ngo which obtained the footage, believes these two men may be directly responsible for killing 180 Rohingyas.
On September 8th the New York Times reported that the men are being questioned by the International Criminal Court (icc), which is investigating Burmese civilian and military leaders for crimes against humanity for their treatment of the Rohingya. Whether the soldiers will be prosecuted remains unclear. Their confessions were filmed in July by the Arakan Army (aa), a rebel outfit fighting the Burmese army. Twan Mrat Naing, the aa’s commander, says that the aa helped them desert the Tatmadaw, as the Burmese army is known. They fled to Bangladesh, whose government was eventually persuaded to turn them over to the icc, says Paul Reichler, a lawyer involved in a different case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (icj), which considers crimes committed by countries, rather than individuals.