Social Media Video of Brutal Murder by Alleged Armed Group in Myanmar Draws Public Criticism

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 1 November 2019

YANGON—A video clip showing a man wearing civilian clothes being brutally beaten to death by an alleged member of an armed group spread across social media on Oct. 30.

The video clip shows a man wearing a shirt and longyi kneeling at the edge of a pit, hands tied behind his back, with five alleged members of an armed group.

The members of the armed group, wearing partial uniforms and carrying AK-47 guns and knives, ask the victim in both the Rakhine and Burmese languages to pray for his final wishes.

”May my spirit go to my brother and mother. May the Arakan Army [AA] enjoy peace,” the victim says in Burmese with an ethnic Rakhine accent.

After the victim prays, a member of the armed group wearing only trousers and no shirt hits the victim in the back of the head and knocks him down into the pit.

The man then hits the victim in the head several times until he dies.

The video clip of the brutal murder was taken down from social media several hours after it spread.

It is difficult to identify which organization or armed group the assailants belong to, as they aren’t wearing full uniforms.

However, the murder case likely involved some ethnic Rakhine people and it is likely linked to the AA, based on the speech of those involved and the mention of the AA.

There have so far been many criticisms condemning the brutal murder as well as allegations against both the AA and the Myanmar Military.

However, on Oct. 31, during an interview with BBC Burmese, an AA representative declined any knowledge of the murder, saying that the group doesn’t commit such murders. The AA representative accused the Myanmar army of involvement.

A spokesperson with the Myanmar military’s True News Information Team denied the accusation and reiterated that the murder was instead committed by the AA.

”We absolutely can’t accept this kind of murder. [The victim] should not have been tortured like that, no matter what kind of mistakes he made,” said Daw Khin Saw Wai, a lawmaker with the Arakan National Party (ANP).

She added that she wanted to urge ethnic armed groups and the military to consider the civilians who are innocent victims of the violence between them, though she didn’t want to blame the fighting on either the armed groups or the military.

In September, three civilians were beheaded in northern Rakhine State. The dead bodies of two of the victims were displayed at the market intersection of Kan Taung Gyi Village in Myeypon Township on Sept. 10.

On the same day, another body of a civilian who had been beheaded was displayed at a village in Ann Township.

”This kind of murder is an awful occurrence. Those who commit these murders are threatening our human society. Such lawless murdering must be investigated if possible,” said lawyer and human rights defender Robert San Aung.

He said the two sides need to hold a dialogue, as civilians are losing their lives due to the lack of peace.

”We regard such murders as terrible violations of human rights. We object to any organization committing such murders,” said U Yu Lwin Aung, a senior member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, on Friday.