More than 500 civil rights groups have called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to stop the escalating violence in Myanmar’s western Chin state, which has become a forefront of resistance against military rule.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement on behalf of 521 international and domestic organisations calling on the Security Council to adopt a resolution and act before the offensive expands in the embattled border region.
“It must convene an urgent meeting on the escalating attacks in Chin State and the overall deepening political, human rights and humanitarian crisis as a result of the Myanmar military leaders’ search for power and greed that has caused immense suffering,” the statement said.
Heavy weapons and troops have been moved towards the region, suggesting an imminent army attack to flush out militia groups formed after the military coup in February.
The rights groups also called on the UN to impose a global arms embargo to stop the flow of weapons and dual-use goods to the Myanmar military government, according to the Reuters news agency, which reported the news on Friday.
Myanmar has been paralysed by protests and violence, with the military struggling to govern as it faces armed resistance from militias and ethnic minority rebels allied with a shadow government.
The UN humanitarian agency in a situation report on Wednesday said clashes between security forces and people’s defence forces had intensified in Chin as well as in neighbouring Magway and Sagaing regions.
The Myanmar military last week began shelling the town of Thantlang, in Chin State. Witnesses, aid groups and local media said the shelling set as many as 200 houses and at least two churches on fire. HRW said soldiers deliberately torched houses at random. Save the Children, one of the signatories of the statement, said its office was destroyed.
Approximately 10,000 residents had already fled Thantlang as the military allegedly shot into homes and set off fires by shelling in September.
The organisations maintain such indiscriminate attacks against civilians and humanitarian organisations are violations of international law and constitute war crimes.
Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said “these tactics are ominously reminiscent of those employed by the military before its genocidal attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017”.
“We should all be prepared, as the people in this part of Myanmar are prepared, for even more mass atrocity crimes. I desperately hope that I am wrong,” he said as he presented his findings to the UN General Assembly last week.
The Security Council has so far refrained from taking any effective actions beyond statements.
“The human security risk not only threatens the people of Myanmar but also regional and thus global security and peace,” HRW said in its call to action.
“The Council must immediately build on previous statements with concrete action by adopting a resolution that consolidates international action to resolve the deepening crisis.”