Human rights groups said Myanmar's government is trying to cover up abuses against civilians in the Muslim-majority part of Rakhine State after an investigation panel dismissed accusations that a government crackdown there amounts to genocide.
A commission appointed by the government of Aung San Suu Kyi refuted charges of abuses by security forces on Wednesday, even as authorities were allegedly investigating police abuses after a video emerged appearing to show officers beating and kicking Rohingya villagers.
At least 86 people have died and an estimated 34,000 have fled across the border to Bangladesh.
Rohingya residents and refugees accuse security forces of summary executions, arbitrary arrest, rape and burning down homes as part of what the government has termed its "clearance operations" in ‘search of attackers'.
Myanmar's government has flatly denied allegations that abuses have been committed, but has prevented independent journalists and aid workers from accessing parts of northern Rakhine.
Under international pressure Suu Kyi ordered the commission to investigate the attacks and the abuse allegations.
The panel said it had so far found "insufficient evidence" for legal action on allegations of rape by soldiers.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the panel was "looking more and more like the Myanmar government whitewash mechanism that we feared it would be," highlighting that the panel chair Vice President Myint Swe, is a former army lieutenant general.
Robertson said it was astonishing that the commission could conclude from the presence of mosques that the Rohingya are not being persecuted.
"Judging by what is written in this interim report, the commission has so far acted to discount out of hand what it calls 'external allegations' rather than seriously investigate them and risk uncovering the litany of rights violations against the Rohingya," he said by email.
Matthew Smith, founder of campaign group Fortify Rights, said the commission's report was sharply at odds with accounts collected by researchers interviewing civilians in northern Rakhine and those who have fled to Bangladesh.
"The army has committed atrocity crimes and this commission is attempting a whitewash. Ministries led by Suu Kyi have charted the path of denial, waging a shameful propaganda campaign," Smith said by email.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team