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ASIA/MYANMAR – Amnesty International. Serious acts of violence against the civilian population in the Burmese states of Kayah and Kayin

ASIA/MYANMAR – Amnesty International. Serious acts of violence against the civilian population in the Burmese states of Kayah and Kayin

Amnesty International

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) – Violence in the Burmese states of Kayah and Kayin erupted again after the February 2021 coup, but it intensified again from last December to March 2022, causing the death of hundreds of civilians and 150,000 displaced persons. Civilians are paying the highest price with continuous killing, looting and burning which have all the hallmarks of “collective punishment” tactics. This is according to Amnesty International’s report “Bullets were raining from the sky”: War crimes and displacement in eastern Myanmar, an investigation carried out by Amnesty in the two states Kayin and Kayah, in the Burmese area. east, on the border with Thailand.
The “Tatmadaw”, the army answering to the military junta, has subjected Karen and Karenni civilians (present in these states) to “collective punishment through widespread air and ground attacks, arbitrary detentions which often lead to torture or extrajudicial killings and the looting and burning of villages.” More than a hundred witnesses from the border area told Amnesty journalists terrible stories that led the organization to claim that the Tatmadaw “systematically committed widespread atrocities, including unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions and forced displacement of civilians”.
These actions are likely to be charged with “war crimes and probable crimes against humanity” due to the constant killing, looting and burning “which exhibits all the hallmarks of typical military collective punishment tactics”, the official said. report. Some attacks, it is explained, appear to have directly targeted civilians as suspected supporters of armed groups or the post-coup uprising. In other cases, the army fired indiscriminately into civilian areas where there were also military targets. These attacks, according to Amnesty, violate international humanitarian law and constitute “war crimes”. If the attacks against the civilian population must be “widespread or systematic” to constitute “crimes against humanity” – continues the document consulted by Agenzia Fides – in the states of Kayin and Kayah, these are crimes such as murder , torture,
transfer and ethnic persecution.
During ongoing operations, the Myanmar military has repeatedly fired explosive weapons with widespread effect at populated civilian areas. Dozens of witnesses told Amnesty International of the bombings that lasted for days. The organization documented 24 artillery or mortar attacks between December 2021 and March 2022 that killed or injured civilians or caused the destruction of homes, schools, health facilities, churches and monasteries. Agenzia Fides has received first-hand accounts of these reprisals against suspected militants, rebels against the military government, speaking with several priests and nuns in the state of Kayah, where there is a high percentage of Catholics and of Christians. According to the report, the Myanmar military carried out arbitrary arrests of civilians based on their community or suspected of supporting the insurgency. Those detained were often tortured, subjected to enforced disappearances or executed. Witnesses said the Burmese army fired on civilians, including those trying to flee across a river on the Thai border. In addition, soldiers systematically looted and burned large sections of villages in Kayin and Kayah states, as shown in satellite images released by Amnesty. The organization also points to the danger that the war does not allow for an equitable distribution of humanitarian aid. The issue will be addressed by the UN special envoy for Myanmar, Noleen Heyzer, who is expected in the country soon. (EG/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 6/2/2022)


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