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Call for probe into alleged army abuse after beatings video emerges

Video apparently shot with a cellphone camera appears to show a Burma Army soldier kicking a civilian, whose hands have been tied behind his back.

Human rights advocates called on Burma to investigate the actions of some of its soldiers on Saturday after footage of people being treated violently by uniformed men went viral.

Burma’s armed forces have often been accused of abuses by human rights groups and Western governments during decades of conflict with myriad ethnic armed groups.

The footage, which was posted on Facebook early on Saturday, surfaced as some of the country’s armed rebel groups gathered in the capital Naypyidaw for a new round of peace talks with Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi after a tough first year in power for her that saw the worst fighting with rebels in years.

The footage appeared to show several members of Burma’s military beating and kicking three men as at least six unidentified men were handcuffed and questioned.

The video showed soldiers kicking men in the face on the ground as well as holding a machete to a man’s throat.

Some of the handcuffed men were questioned as to whether they belonged to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic armed group based in Shan State that recently clashed with the military.

Reuters could not independently verify the identity of the people involved in the video. It was not clear when and where it was taken.

Matthew Smith, founder of campaign group Fortify Rights, identified the uniform as that of the Burma Army.

“The Myanmar authority should immediately investigate this footage, and with urgency the authority should determine the well-being and whereabouts of the men detained in the footage,” he said.

Burma’s State Counsellor’s Office and military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A coalition of four rebel groups comprising some of Burma’s most powerful militias, including the TNLA, staged attacks on security forces in the north of the country in November.

Earlier this year, Burma investigated policemen after footage of villagers being treated violently appeared online amid tension over a government crackdown aimed at rooting out suspected insurgents in northern Arakan State.