Myanmar military junta may commit crimes against humanity

In a sharp attack on Myanmar’s coup leaders, special investigator Thomas Andrews presents documented evidence of crimes of mass atrocities against the people of Myanmar. He said more than 1,100 people were killed while 8,000 more were arbitrarily arrested, and 230,000 more were forcibly displaced. This has been since the military junta on February 1 toppled the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Andrews described in detail the killing of protesters in the streets, the beating and torture of people in detention, whole villages being attacked by bombs and rocket-launched grenades. He said no one was allowed to survive, not even children. He noted that at least 75 children aged 14 months to 17 years had been killed by the junta forces as of July.

“I have also received credible reports of children being tortured, including two boys who starved and then had their legs burned with iron rods… Now the junta is increasingly relying on another depraved tactic, the use of collective punishment, including the kidnapping of their family members was sought with an arrest warrant, but could not be found by the police and military forces,” he said.

Furthermore, Andrews said the people did not allow the generals to just torture them. He said members of the ousted civilian government and ethnic leaders had formed the National Unity Government as legitimate opposition to the military junta. He said the civilian-led People’s Defense Forces were securing villages. But he noted Myanmar would not get its freedom without strong support and action from the international community.

“In my view, the goodwill of those who want to end this violence through engagement and dialogue will not succeed as long as the military junta is not willing to end its brutality, and this can only be done with influence… The fact is that the international community is currently trying to stop the situation from getting worse. “The incident in Myanmar didn’t work out at all,” he said.

The UN investigator called for coordinated international action and economic sanctions against the junta. For example, Andrew said sanctions against the Myanmar Oil and Gas Company could stop the junta from continuing to steal the country’s natural resource wealth. He said a comprehensive arms embargo and the use of technology for peaceful and military purposes could save the lives of the Myanmar people. [my/lt]

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