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Analysis of War Crimes: Seeking Accountability for Ending Impunity in Burma

April 24th, 2018  •  Author:   Legal Aid Network  •  3 minute read
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This report provides detailed analysis of three recent incidents of war crimes committed with impunity by the Myanmar Army in northern Shan State, Karenni State and Kachin State. In each case, the politico-economic context of the conflict is analyzed, and the atrocities are examined from the aspects of the Rule of Law, human rights and federalism.

The first incident – involving large-scale use of villagers as human shields – occurred in November 2016, in Muse District, northern Shan State, when the Myanmar Army were fighting against the Northern Alliance forces at Mong Ko, close to the Chinese border. The Myanmar troops were in danger of losing a tactical hilltop base close to Mong Ko, and were using every means to defend it, including heavy artillery and air power, due to the geo-political and economic importance of this border trading zone.

On November 20, Myanmar troops under Light Infantry Division 99 came to the nearby village of Man Jat and forced 147 villagers to come to their hilltop base. They were forced to lie face down on the ground around the base, without moving, while guns and mortars were fired over their heads. They remained there for thirteen days. Thirteen villagers were injured by gunfire and grenades, and two killed. One of the injured men lay bleeding all night without being treated, until Myanmar military medics came and amputated his arm; even after the amputation, he was made to continue lying on the ground as a human shield. Only on December 3, during a lull in the fighting, were all the villagers finally able to escape.

The second incident described is the extrajudicial killing of three Karenni soldiers and one Karenni civilian by Myanmar Army troops on December 20, 2017, after the Karenni troops had challenged the Myanmar troops for transporting illegal timber past a Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) checkpoint. Details of the killing, whereby the victims were disarmed and tricked into posing for a photograph, only to be shot in cold blood, provide clear evidence that this was a war crime. It is analyzed that the crime was intended to intimidate the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) from challenging the Myanmar Army‘s theft of the natural resources in Karenni State, and also to pressure the KNPP into signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

The third incident took place when nearly 4,000 civilians were fleeing the Myanmar Army offensive in gold and amber mining areas of Tanai, Kachin State in January 2018. The civilians were deliberately blocked Myanmar troops from leaving the area for 13 days, in order to serve as human shields against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). They were ordered to take a path known to be planted with land mines; their property was looted; men were tortured; and delivery of humanitarian assistance was blocked.

The pretext for the Myanmar Army ―clearance operation‖ in the Tanai area was to stop illegal mining and protect the environment. However, it is analyzed that the real intention is to seize control of the rich natural resources of the area themselves, as in the Phakant jade mining area. Tanai also lies in a strategic location, along the old Ledo road, linking China and northeast India.

It is analyzed that as long as civil war continues, such war crimes will continue to take place with impunity, but that genuine peace cannot be achieved under the current so-called peace seeking process, centered on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Myanmar military leaders are simply exploiting the process to strengthen the operation of the 2008 Constitution, and accelerate the extraction and exploitation of natural resources owned by the Ethnic States.

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အစီရင္ခံစာ ျမန္မာဘာသာကုိ ဤေနရာတြင္ ရယူႏုိင္သည္။