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Myanmar detains officers for Rohingya abuse allegations

The authorities in Myanmar have launched an investigation after a video of police officers abusing Rohingya went viral. Myanmar's government has long sought to minimize reports of brutality towards the Muslim minority.

Four policemen were arrested over the video recorded in the north of Rakhine region, the office of the de-facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, said on Monday.

In the recording, made by one of the officers, the police are seen hitting a young boy around the head, as well as beating a man with a stick and kicking him, while the villagers are made to sit in rows with their hands clasped behind their necks.

"Those who (were) initially identified were detained," Suu Kyi's office said in a statement. "Further investigations are being carried out to expose other police officers who beat villagers in the operation."

The police were on a "clearance operation" in the Rohingya village of Kotankauk, the statement added.

"We have rules and regulations for police," government spokesman Zaw Htay told the DPA news agency. "They will be punished according to that police law." 

From bad to worse

The violence between the troops and the Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country has reignited after the attack on police outposts in October. Many Rohingya have reported police brutality, arson and mass rape during the crackdowns, which have forced some 50,000 of them to flee to across the Bangladeshi border.

Human Rights Watch also accused the security forces of torching entire villages, while UN rights commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein criticized the government's "callous" handling of the crisis, saying it was "a lesson in how to make a bad situation worse".

The government, led by the Nobel prize winner Suu Kyi, has insisted that activists exaggerate the scale of violence. The crisis has raised questions about the ability of her administration to control the army, which has ruled the nations for decades and still holds ministry posts which are responsible for security.

Many in Myanmar believe that the country's estimated one million Rohingya are simply immigrants from the Muslim Bangladesh.They are denied citizenship and voting rights.

dj/kms (AFP, AP)

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