UN report points to dramatic increase in crimes committed by military

August 11th, 2023  •  Author:   Christian Solidarity Worldwide  •  3 minute read
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The UNs Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) shared compelling evidence in its report on 8 August that Myanmars military and associate militias are increasingly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The IIMM report details war crimes including the targeting of civilians in aerial bombings, the systematic burning of civilian homes and buildings often leading to the annihilation of entire villages, and an increase in mass executions of civilians and detained combatants.

Evidence of torture and mass sexual violence was also found, with a focus on the widespread sexual and gender-based violence used as a military tactic during the ‘clearance operations’ of the Rohingya from Myanmar in 2016 and 2017.

‘Every loss of life in Myanmar is tragic, but the devastation caused to whole communities through aerial bombardments and village burnings is particularly shocking,’ said Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Mechanism.

‘Our evidence points to a dramatic increase in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, with widespread and systematic attacks against civilians, and we are building case files that can be used by courts to hold individual perpetrators responsible’.

Civil society reports add further weight to the evidence in the IIMM report. The humanitarian NGO Free Burma Rangers (FBR) reports that in Karenni (Kayah) State, all hospitals and clinics have come under aerial bombardment and many have also suffered mortar attacks on the ground. When survivors move and attempt to rebuild, they are targeted again.

According to FBR, on 27 May 2023 four medics at a casualty collection point were instantly killed by the direct hit of a 500-pound bomb. The next day, at a different site, two husband and wife teams of medical personnel were killed in the same way. The aerial bombing of two clinics and a hospital was reported a month prior, causing total destruction. The hospital attack left two people dead – one of them a baby.

Since the February 2021 coup that deposed a democratically elected government, Myanmar has experienced a marked increase in brutal and extreme forms of violence. The Myanmar military’s longstanding conflict with ethnic and religious minorities has rapidly escalated into a more concerted campaign of bloody repression. This has precipitated a humanitarian and human rights crisis even more devastating than that experienced under previous regimes.

In June, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published a report on the state of religious freedom in Myanmar since the coup which found that whilst the military initially focused on Buddhist clergy who supported resistance forces and on limiting freedom of expression and speech, the junta’s focus has now broadened. Raids and attacks on places of worship and sacred sites, their destruction or military repurposing and their use as killing fields have all been evidenced. Some religious and sacred sites have also been used as detention camps and interrogation centres. The ICJ also notes the rapid acceleration in the number of indiscriminate airstrikes on civilians and religious infrastructure.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW continues to condemn the brutal actions of Myanmar’s junta in the strongest terms. There is overwhelming evidence coming in from reports on the ground that grave crimes are being perpetrated by the military against civilians. We call for the immediate cessation of violence and an end to the deliberate targeting of civilians and infrastructure, including hospitals and places of worship. We urge states to do more to stop the supply of arms and resources to the military, and for further targeted sanctions to prevent influential military personnel from continuing their brutal campaigns.’

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