Amnesty International has called on the United Nations Security Council to take urgent action against Myanmar before the International Criminal Court, amid mounting evidence of military abuses, including indiscriminate firing at civilians in the continuing conflict with armed Arakan rebels.
In a report released on Monday, Amnesty said that first-hand testimony, photographs and video evidence obtained by the group show the Myanmar military’s “utter disregard for civilian suffering” in areas at the epicentre of the fighting.
Ming Yu Nah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, said the violations were growing “more shocking and brazen by the day.”
Several incidents involving civilians injured or killed by landmines and bombardments have been reported in Chin and Rakhine states in recent weeks.
Rakhine is home to tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya, many of whom were forced to flee to Bangladesh after a separate military crackdown in 2017.
By one local civil society group’s estimate, the number of civilians already killed in this conflict since December 2018 in Rakhine and Chin states stands at 289, with 641 injured, Amnesty said. Tens of thousands of others have been displaced.
A mobile internet shutdown and government crackdown on media reporting also make it difficult to independently verify the claims of witnesses.
But according to Amnesty, in July 2020 it was able to document “indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling” by the military, which also left fatalities and injuries, including of minors.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had also told the Human Rights Council in recent months that in Rakhine State, civilians “appear to have been targeted or attacked indiscriminately, which may constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity”.
According to Amnesty, satellite analysis and new witness testimony also suggested that Myanmar soldiers burned a village in central Rakhine in early September.
“The international community must raise the alarm about the situation in Rakhine state now, or face questions later about why they failed to act – again,” said Ming Yu Hah.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk