Burma

Int’l Rights Experts Urge UN to Declare Myanmar Junta ‘Terrorist’ Organization

By The Irrawaddy 28 September 2021

An independent group of prominent former UN human rights experts has urged the United Nations Security Council to declare the Myanmar military junta a “terrorist organization” for its atrocities against its own civilians including public torture, executions and taking hostages, including children as young as 2.

In its latest statement, the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M), which includes Yanghee Lee, the former UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said on Monday that the regime’s forces had committed multiple massacres of civilians—including children—torched entire villages, and fired randomly into homes, killing residents, in Chin State and Magway, Sagaing and Mandalay regions throughout September, even as UN member states met in New York and Geneva over the past two weeks.

Myanmar has been in political and social turmoil since February when the country’s military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing upended the Southeast Asian nation by staging a coup against the ruling civilian government. The putsch has faced strong popular resistance—from peaceful street protests in the wake of the coup to the recent launch of a guerrilla-style civilian armed struggle in response to the regime’s brutal crackdowns on protesters. So far, the junta has killed more than 1,000 people.

The SAC-M said the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military), seeking to return Myanmar to full military rule, had committed public torture and executions. It said the regime’s forces also took family members of democracy activists as hostages, including children as young as 2, and planted landmines under the bodies of civilians they had killed, detonating them when family and friends returned to claim the deceased.

Chris Sidoti of the SAC-M said these were the same terrorist tactics used by the nascent Islamic State group in the Iraqi desert in the mid-2000s.

“The UN Security Council should immediately commence the process of declaring the Tatmadaw as a terrorist organization,” he said.

The junta has been trying to snuff out the deadly armed resistance for months but in vain so far. The regime’s troops have become notorious for committing all kinds of atrocities as reprisals whenever the military sustains casualties. Throughout September they have massacred civilians—including children—torched entire villages, fired randomly into homes and shelled residential areas in the country’s Kayah and Chin states and Magwe, Sagaing and Mandalay regions, claiming that the areas harbored civilian resistance forces known as People’s Defense Force (PDF) units. Both sides sustained casualties during the shootouts.

Lee said the regime’s forces are using the same tactics they used during the genocidal atrocities committed against the Rohingya, referring to the army’s killings in Rakhine State in the country’s west in 2017. More than 700,000 Rohingya had to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

“If you juxtapose the pictures of recent massacres with those of 2017 in northern Rakhine, you cannot see any difference. No one has been held to account for those terrible crimes, and now people are being massacred and villages burned up and down the country,” she said.

Despite the regime’s ongoing atrocities and repeated calls from activists at home and abroad, the international community has failed to take significant actions against the junta so far, other than imposing sanctions against them. The UN is unlikely to take any meaningful action, either, as the regime has support from its longtime allies China and Russia at the Security Council. When Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government formed with ousted elected lawmakers and their ethnic allies, called for a war against the regime early this month, the international community simply responded by calling on all parties to refrain from violence. The NUG said its call to arms was a last resort in light of the diplomatic failure to improve the situation in Myanmar.

In its statement, the SAC-M deplored the international community’s repeated failure to help the people of Myanmar.

Council member Marzuki Darusman, the former chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said  the international community should end its hypocrisy and cease to mindlessly call on all parties to refrain from violence.

“They full well know it is the Tatmadaw that is the source of violence and calamity,” he said.


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