TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Reports that Myanmar soldiers are killing, raping and torturing villagers in Rakhine, a restive region that is home to the persecuted Muslim Rohingya, must be independently investigated, a rights group said.
On Friday, Amnesty International joined calls for an impartial investigation into the allegations, which the UN has called "alarming and unacceptable", AFP reported.
"If Myanmar's security forces are not involved in any human rights violations as the authorities claim, then they should have no trouble granting independent observers access," said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty's Southeast Asia and Pacific director.
Stories of grave abuse by security officers — including sexual violence, summary executions and the torching of villages — have spiraled on social media but are difficult to verify with the army barring rights groups and journalists from the remote region bordering Bangladesh.
Eight Rohingya women, all from U Shey Kya village in Rakhine State, described in detail how soldiers last week raided their homes, looted property and raped them at gun point.
Reuters interviewed three of the women in person and five by telephone, and spoke to human rights groups and community leaders.
Soldiers have poured into the Maungdaw area since Oct. 9, after an insurgent group of Rohingyas that the government believes has links to Islamists overseas launched coordinated attacks on several border guard posts.
A forty-year-old woman from U Shey Kya said that four soldiers raped her and assaulted her 15-year-old daughter, while stealing jewelry and cash from the family.
"They took me inside the house. They tore my clothes and they took my head scarf off," the mother of seven said outside her home, a cramped bamboo hut.
Zaw Htay, the spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, denied the allegations.
"There's no logical way of committing rape in the middle of a big village of 800 homes, where insurgents are hiding," Zaw Htay claimed.
Rakhine, where Rohingya Muslims form the majority population, has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.
Hundreds of people have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and live in squalid camps in dire situations in Myanmar and other countries in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to the UN, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The government denies full citizenship to Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even as many trace their lineage in Myanmar back generations.