UN fears mass atrocity crimes in northern Myanmar

UN fears mass atrocity crimes in northern Myanmar
The United Nations has said it fears a greater human rights catastrophe in Myanmar amid reports of thousands of troops massing in the north of the Southeast Asian country which has been in chaos since a February coup.

UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews, who was presenting the findings of an annual human rights report on Myanmar to the UN General Assembly on Friday, said he had received information that tens of thousands of troops and heavy weapons were being moved into restive regions in the north and northwest.

The findings, he said, also indicated that the military government had engaged in probable crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“We should all be prepared, as the people in this part of Myanmar are prepared, for even more mass atrocity crimes. I desperately hope that I am wrong,” said Andrews.

More than 1,100 civilians have been killed in the country’s bloody crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested since the coup, according to a local monitoring group.

“These tactics are ominously reminiscent of those employed by the military before its genocidal attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017,” Andrews added.

In 2017, about 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state after security forces launched a clampdown that the UN has said may amount to genocide. Andrews urged countries to deny Myanmar’s military the money, weapons and legitimacy it desired, citing a prisoner release earlier in the week as evidence that pressure was working.

On Monday, Myanmar’s military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing announced the release of more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against the coup. The move came just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) delivered a major snub to the military regime in excluding its head from an upcoming summit of the 10-country bloc. Continue...

James Koroma