“This is the crack in the armor of impunity in the history of the Myanmar army’s campaign against the Rohingya and other ethnic nationalities,” Smith told NBC News.
The two soldiers fled Myanmar and have been flown to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court is located, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
NBC News could not independently confirm the statements from the soldiers but their testimony appears to match accounts from human rights groups and Rohingya refugees.
Myanmar’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
In his video testimony, Pvt. Myo Win Tun says the same colonel who gave his unit the original orders, Col. Than Htike, told the troops “to exterminate all” Rohingya.
Both soldiers, speaking without emotion in a flat monotone, described how the troops from all ranks raped Rohingya women before destroying the villages.
“We also raped Muslim women prior to shooting them,” Pvt. Myo Win Tun says. “There were the Corporals, Sergeants, and Officers who raped Muslim women. I also raped one time.”
In the same region, another unit was carrying out a massacre against Rohingya under similar orders, according to video testimony from a second soldier, Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun of the 353rd Light Infantry Battalion.
“We wiped out about 20 Muslim villages,” Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun says in the video. His unit of roughly 80 troops was told “to kill all, irrespective of children and adults,” he says.
Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun says fellow troops and officers raped Rohingya women. He did not take part as he was ordered to guard the area where the rapes were carried out, the soldier says.
“I was sentry outside while they were raping. I had to do the sentry because I am a private,” he says. “I can’t remember all of their names and ranks because there were a lot of them.”
Over a period of days, Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun says his battalion launched attacks on 20 villages in Maungdaw Township, including Doe Tan, Ngan Chaung, Kyet Yoe Pyin, Zin Paing Nyar and U Shey Kya.
He says he and fellow soldiers shot and killed seven Rohingya in Zin Paing Nyar. He also says in the video that they abducted 10 unarmed Rohingya, tied them up with ropes, killed them and buried them in a mass grave. He and other privates dug the hole for the mass grave, he says.
The August 2017 military campaign against the Rohingya Muslims forced an estimated 730,000 to flee the country, mostly in neighboring Bangladesh.
An international fact-finding team appointed by the United Nations concluded that top military commanders in Myanmar should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and other crimes against humanity. The crimes included murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement, the investigators said.
According to the United Nations, about 200 Rohingya villages were razed from 2017 to 2019.
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