The video, shot by a police officer, shows officers in a village in Rakhine state repeatedly hitting and kicking unarmed and unresisting boys and men as they join what appear to be their fellow villagers, who are lined up and sitting on the ground. The officers continue to kick and taunt two of the men after they are seated.
The video was posted December 31. The video and the abuse it captures are not unusual, AFP notes — but the government response is.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Myanmar Police Force have launched an investigation "against police who allegedly beat villagers during area clearance operations on November 5 in Kotankauk village," a government statement published by state media January 2 declared.
Police Major Myo Htike of the Kotankauk Village Police Force told the Myanmar Times, "The investigation is still going on in order to identify more police who were involved in beating of the villagers during that operation. For now, the four police officers [identified] will face action for violating the police force rules."
He did not say what that action might be.
Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority have faced state and social persecution for years and are not recognized by the state as citizens of Myanmar. Since violence broke out in Rakhine state in 2012, 140,000 have been internally displaced and another 86,000 have fled to neighboring countries, according to Amnesty International.
But the stateless Rohingya are not welcomed by many neighbors, who push back their boats or turn them away from borders.
The retaliation in Rakhine state and beyond amounts to ethnic cleansing, some nations and human rights groups say.
The plight of the Rohingya is driving global disappointment in Myanmar's civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is accused of failing the Rohingya and even presiding over a genocide. Last week, 13 Nobel laureates and 10 global leaders signed an open letter to the UN Security Council urging more to be done on the issue.
"As you are aware, a human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar," the letter read. "Despite repeated appeals to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas. Daw Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion."