A video released by Radio Free Asia (RFA) shows what appears to be the torture of five men detained on a Myanmar Navy vessel in the country’s Rakhine State.
The five men, whose hands were tied behind their backs, were forced to confess to being rebel Arakan Army fighters, which the government has declared as a terrorist organization last March.
Family members and local villagers told RFA that the men being tortured in the video are innocent civilians.
The relatives further told RFA that three of the men were from a village that had been mortar bombed by Myanmar forces on April 13. The attack left eight civilians dead and injured more than a dozen others, reported RFA.
The video emerged online on May 10 and went viral. You can see it further below.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told RFA that authorities are looking into the video, assuring that soldiers always act according to law when they arrest and interrogate suspects.
He said that authorities have arrested three Arakan Army members and three others “who have connections to the [Arakan Army].”
The Arakan Army is a Rakhine armed group in Myanmar established on April 10, 2009, as the armed wing of the United League of Arakan.
Khine Thukha, spokesman of the Arakan Army, said the video is proof that Myanmar forces abuse detained civilians.
“This is totally wrong. This is clear proof of military troops using torture and inhumane methods to get the answers they want during interrogations,” he said.
“This is not the first time they have arrested innocent civilians accused of being [Arakan Army] members and tortured them during interrogation,” he added.
Both Myanmar forces and the Arakan Army routinely detain and interrogate civilians and local government employees whom they believe may be assisting the enemy.
Relatives of the five men on the video and local legislators have demanded justice for the victims.
Khin Maung Latt, a legislator representing Rakhine State’s No. 2 constituency, told RFA that the government should act to ensure that brutality against detainees will not happen.
“The government should act according to legal mechanisms to take action against the abusers so that we can avoid other incidents like this in future,” he said.