“We Cannot Move Freely” The Impacts of Martial Law on Civilians in Southeastern Burma

February 17th, 2023  •  Author:   Human Rights Foundation of Monland  •  2 minute read
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The scaled-up violence and brutality of the military junta continues because of deeply
ingrained impunity. The regime has been emboldened to routinely disregard the law
because the international community has failed to hold the soldiers accountable.
The junta-backed soldiers based in areas such as Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 556,
LIB 557, LIB 558, and Artillery Regiments Command No. 306 are the main perpetrators,
according to HURFOM fieldworkers who receive military information from the
opposition armed forces.

For over two years now, innocent civilians have suffered greatly at the hands of an
Army who claims legitimate governance. These are unfounded and lack credentials,
even according to the military’s own 2008 drafted Constitution.

Since 1 February 2021, and in the decades prior, the junta has continued to wage
unprecedented violence against a largely unarmed civilian population. Their
campaign of fear and barbarity has led to thousands of deaths and injuries across the
country. Innocent people are routinely rounded up and arrested before being forcibly
detained under fabricated charges. Burma has been economically destabilized while
human rights continue to be systematically violated.

As a result of these perilous conditions, the thousands of civilians who have been
displaced are living under highly uncertain conditions. They lack safe access to food
and medicine. They cannot return to their villages – many of which have either been
destroyed by the junta or are currently occupied by military forces. Children are
malnourished, unable to attend school, and their parents cannot work. Further, the
neighbouring Thailand’s border patrol is becoming increasingly strict and denying
safe passage to people attempting to cross and flee conflict. The tensions between the
Burma Army and opposition forces have shown no signs of stopping.

HURFOM remains seriously concerned about escalating human rights violations
in Southeastern Burma. Terms like “in accordance with the law” or “in accordance
with democracy” have frequently been used by the junta to justify their illegitimate
rule. Martial Law in particular advances an unequal balance of powers which forces
civilians to submit to the soldiers or risk death. Further, the imposition of Martial
Law in the dozens of townships across the country is unjustified and threatens the
rights of all people in Burma.

The culture of impunity must end.

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