Myanmar: Military's mass grave admission exposes extrajudicial killings of Rohingya

Myanmar: Military's mass grave admission exposes extrajudicial killings of Rohingya

Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were returned after the hearing in Rangoon to the notorious Insein Prison, where they have spent close to a month.

In Wednesday's military statement, the office of Myanmar's commander-in-chief said that both villagers and security forces had admitted they killed "10 Bengali terrorists" - a reference to the Rohingya whose bodies were found in a mass grave in the village of Inn Din previous year.

The UN and USA have condemned the violence as ethnic cleansing.

Despite the military crackdown in August, small insurgent group have continued to launch attacks until last week, when its fighters ambushed a Myanmar military truck, wounding several members of the security forces.

Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were detained on December 12 after they had been invited to meet police officers over dinner.

"It is one of the most striking examples of how targeted the burning has been in the military's campaign", Wells said in a phone call.

Kyaw Soe Oo shouted: "Please tell the people to protect our journalists".

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were in handcuffs when they arrived in court.

His colleague Wa Lone said his wife was pregnant, adding: "I'm trying to be strong". They were held incommunicado for two weeks.

The government has said two police officers were also arrested for investigation under suspicion of having violated the Official Secrets Act.

"Partners have identified about 20 children separated from their families during the violence but estimate the total number to be at least 100 - most of whom are in parts of northern Rakhine state that they still can not access", Unicef spokesperson Marixie Mercado told journalists in Geneva during a briefing on her visit to Myanmar from December 6 through January 3.

Reporters covering Wednesday's proceedings wore black in protest against their arrest and carried banners proclaiming "Journalism is not a crime".

Reuters President and Editor-In-Chief Stephen J. Adler said he was extremely disappointed that the authorities were seeking to prosecute the pair.

The U.S. embassy said it was "very disappointed" by the decision to pursue charges.

Rights groups said that Wednesday's admission of involvement showed the need for Myanmar to allow outside investigators into Rakhine.

Human Rights Watch's Asia advocacy director John Sifton criticised the military's attempted to investigate itself noting that "this is not an institution that has any credibility".

The case has cast a spotlight on Myanmar's troubled transition to democracy after almost five decades of military rule. During the campaign the Rohingya allegedly endured killings, arson, rape, and torture, which forced at least 655,000 of them to flee to safety in Bangladesh. Security forces began cracking down on the Rohingya group after armed rebels attacked police and army posts in late August.

Mercado said the Annan Commission [a report led by the former UN Secretary-General on the situation in Rakhine state] has provided a roadmap for a durable political solution so all children's rights can be protected in a sustainable, open and fair manner in the longer term.

Until now the military and government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has staunchly rebutted overwhelming and extensively documented evidence of atrocities by the United Nations, independent researchers and media outlets, including Fairfax Media.

Her administration shares power with an army that still controls all security policy and other key levers of government.

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