Outgoing UN envoy claims Burmese military may be committing war crimes again

PHOTO: Kalerkantho

Neighbouring Myanmar’s military is committing atrocities which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to the outgoing UN human rights envoy. Fighting between government troops and ethnic minority rebels has flared up again in the country’s Rakhine and Chin states.

Burmese military spokesmen did not answer phone calls for comment with Reuters, nor did the official government spokesman. The army is denying targetting civilians and has declared the insurgent group, the Arakan Army, a terrorist organisation.

Departing envoy Yankee Lee today made her final statement after 6 years as rights envoy, calling for an international investigation into the allegations.

“While the world is occupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Myanmar military continues to escalate its assault in Rakhine State, targetting the civilian population.”

Outgoing UN envoy claims Burmese military may be committing war crimes again | News by Thaiger

The Burmese government has repeatedly refused requests by Lee to enter Myanmar for an official inspection. She has previously accused the army of genocide and other war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine in 2017, when some 700,000 fled an army crackdown.

The South Korean special rapport said the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, have ramped up attacks against civilians in recent weeks with air and artillery strikes that “may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The army and government have consistently rejected such accusations and say the military was responding to attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents (the same reason was offered after accusations followed the 2017 attacks).

Government troops and soldiers of the Arakan Army, which wants greater autonomy for Myanmar’s western region and recruits largely from the region’s Buddhist majority, have been fighting for more than a year, but clashes have intensified recently. Dozens have been killed and tens of thousands displaced.

Lee also urged the Arakan Army, which has been accused of kidnapping officials, to protect civilians. The group did not immediately make a public response. She’s criticised the targetting of aid workers, referring to a driver for the World Health Organisation killed last week. Government troops and rebels blamed each other for his death.

“Calls for a ceasefire, including by the Arakan Army, have gone unheeded. Instead, the Tatmadaw is inflicting immense suffering on the ethnic communities in Rakhine and Chin.”

SOURCE: Reuters

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