Delayed Justice, Mounting Atrocities

May 24th, 2024  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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With mounting numbers of deadly junta attacks on civilians, the international community must not become desensitized to the junta’s inexplicable violence that is a daily reality for Myanmar’s people.

With dozens of civilians dead at the hands of the Myanmar military junta in the first two weeks of May, it is appalling how silent the world has been in response. With complete impunity, the junta is continuously ramping up its intentional, indiscriminate attacks on civilians countrywide as a form of collective punishment against the people’s democratic resistance movement. To save lives, the international community must take urgent, concrete action to stop the junta’s atrocities now and hold the junta accountable under international law.

On 14 May, in Magwe Region, the military junta bombed Taw Ma Village, Saw Township, killing seven civilians including two children, and injuring three other villagers. Occurring in broad daylight and without any fighting in the area, the attack targeted a public gathering of villagers receiving donated blankets and other essentials. Five days earlier in the same township, the junta fired a rocket, dropped a 500-pound incendiary bomb, and unleashed gunfire on a monastery where civilians were sheltering in Akyi Pan Malun Village. The attack killed at least 15 people, injured 34 others—including a monk—and left the monastery in ruins.

On 11 May, the junta massacred 33 civilians in Let Htoke Taw Village in Myinmu Township, Sagaing Region. Junta troops fired light arms and artillery shells, killing six villagers, and then raided the village, shooting in the streets and sending locals fleeing for their lives. During the raid, the junta targeted yet another monastery where villagers were taking refuge, killing 25 civilians by gunshot to the head. The junta incinerated many victims’ bodies to destroy evidence of the massacre, burned down around 200 homes, and contaminated local water pumps. In the same village in May 2023, junta troops torched and destroyed around 600 houses.

The same day, also in Sagaing Region, junta jets bombed a school in Ma Gyi Oak Village, Depayin Township, four times and then attacked the area with machine guns from the air. At the time, both civilians and resistance forces were at the school accessing satellite internet through Starlink, as the junta has cut off all telecommunications networks in the area. This junta attack killed at least seven people and injured 23 others.

Magwe and Sagaing Regions are in central Myanmar, a stronghold of the people’s democratic resistance movement and thus a frequent target of the junta’s relentless terror campaign. To evade any accountability for its horrific violence and ensure its attacks cause maximum devastation, the junta has shut off telecommunications networks in 87 townships countrywide—including 27 townships, out of 34 total, in Sagaing Region alone.

With mounting numbers of deadly junta attacks on civilians, the international community must not become desensitized to the junta’s inexplicable violence that is a daily reality for Myanmar’s people. The world has already significantly delayed bringing the Myanmar military to justice under international law due to a dearth of political will. Such ongoing inaction has caused further harm to Myanmar’s people who are being repeatedly displaced by junta violence and live in constant fear of junta attack. As the junta continues its war of terror against the people with a vengeance, how can the world continue to react to the junta’s ever-increasing mass atrocity crimes with all talk and barely any concrete action to save lives?

The junta’s atrocities can and must be stopped now, and Myanmar civil society has made the next steps abundantly clear. With some sanctions already in place, the international community must take more concerted, coordinated action to cut the flow of arms and cash to the junta—both through effective enforcement of those already imposed and additional targeted sanctions. In this vein, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must adopt a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that includes targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive arms embargo against the junta, including a complete ban on all sales, transfers, and diversion of aviation fuel to Myanmar.

In tandem, the international community must pursue accountability for the Myanmar military’s heinous international crimes—including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—through all available avenues. The UNSC’s binding resolution must refer the crisis in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or establish a special criminal tribunal on Myanmar. UN Member States must also provide financial, political, and technical support for ongoing universal jurisdiction efforts, including in Argentina, Turkey, and the Philippines.

After three long years, the International Criminal Court (ICC) should accept without any further delay the National Unity Government’s July 2021 declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction. Simultaneously, ICC members must refer the crisis in Myanmar to the Chief Prosecutor under Article 14 of Rome Statute. Across all mechanisms, the pursuit of justice and accountability must be victim-centered and fully inclusive to ensure that justice, remedies, and reparations are actualized for all victims and survivors.

There is no end in sight to the junta’s mass atrocity crimes while the international community continues to sit on their hands. This inaction deepens the world’s complicity in the military junta’s heinous crimes by enabling its access to arms and aviation fuel, as well as prolonging its impunity. The time is now for the world to use every tool at its disposal to stop the military’s mass atrocity crimes and hold the perpetrators accountable under international law.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

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Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”