UN Investigator reports possible new war crimes in Myanmar
Published: 09:36 AM, 4 July 2019 Updated: 10:06 AM, 4 July 2019
Myanmar security forces are committing fresh human rights violations against civilians in restive western states - Rakhine and Chin- that may amount to fresh war crimes, a United Nations investigator said on Tuesday.
These claims surfaced with the deployment of thousands of Myanmar troops fighting ethnic rebels in Rakhine and Chin, the conflict-ridden Western states of the country.
A 2017 military crackdown drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
The new military escalations have caused 35,000 people to flee their homes and left 100,000 civilians without access to basic services.
UN investigators said that Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent”.
However, the Myanmar government denies committing those atrocities and says its military aggression across northern Rakhine was in response to attacks by Rohingya militants.
Government troops are currently fighting ethnic rebels in conflict-torn Rakhine and Chin states. Among the 21 armed groups still operating in the country, the Arakan Army is an insurgent group that fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists may also face accusations of war crimes.
Yanghee Lee, the UN independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, said the Arakan Army had reportedly abducted civilians, including 12 construction workers in Paletwa and 52 villagers near the Bangladesh border.
Lee also cited reports of mostly ethnic Rakhine men, being detained and interrogated by Burmese authorities for suspected links to the Arakan Army and said several had died in custody.
Zaw Win Hlaing, 28, died Monday from injuries allegedly sustained while in army custody, his family said.
"My son told me they beat and tortured him by hitting his back with a longyi (a traditional sarong-like garment) packed with stones," his mother told AFP.
An army spokesman said that any official complaint would be investigated, and insisted torture is "banned" during military interrogations.
On June 22, authorities ordered telecoms companies to shut down internet services in the two states. Telenor Group said the ministry of transport and communications had cited “disturbances of peace and use of internet activities to coordinate illegal activities”.
Lee denied the blackout was endangering villagers, obstructing aid and shielding the military.
Myanmar's ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, said the government had declared a ceasefire through August and was trying to bring about national reconciliation. - Reuters, Telegraph
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