Myanmar Junta’s Shelling, Burning of Civilian Buildings Are War Crimes: Shadow Govt

By The Irrawaddy 10 November 2021

Myanmar’s junta has committed war crimes against its own civilians by shelling and burning down houses as well as religious buildings in 56 villages and a town across seven regions and states, according to a statement from the country’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG).

From Sept. 7, when the NUG declared a “people’s defensive war” against the junta, and Oct. 31, the military regime’s forces shelled and burned down a total of 520 structures including offices and religious buildings during their operations against People’s Defense Force units in Magwe, Sagaing, Mandalay and Tanintharyi regions and Chin, Shan and Kayah states, the NUG said.

Regime forces have continued their atrocities including shelling residential areas, looting and burning houses, arbitrarily killing civilians and using them as human shields, especially in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin, Shan and Kayah states.

On Tuesday morning, houses in two villages in Tabayin (also known as Depayin) Township, Sagaing Region burned down after regime forces raided the villages. Residents from five nearby villages have fled their homes due to junta raids, residents told The Irrawaddy.

After flying in troop reinforcements by helicopter, regime forces also raided villages and shelled civilian targets in Sagaing Region’s Kawlin Township, one of the country’s most restive areas. More than 130 junta soldiers have been killed in clashes with PDF fighters in the township since late October.

On Monday, during a firefight with forces from the Katha-PDF and Kachin Independence Army, regime forces randomly shelled Moetar Village in Sagaing’s Katha Township. Due to the junta shelling, a child was wounded, four houses burned down and 10 cows belonging to local residents were killed, according to media reports.

On Oct. 29, more than 160 houses including Christian churches in Thantlang, a mountaintop town in Chin State, burned down after regime forces shelled the town for the second time.

The town’s entire population of around 9,000 residents had already fled after being shelled by regime forces in the third week of September.

In its statement on Tuesday, the NUG warned coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his associates to immediately end their “fascist” crimes against humanity.

The NUG also said it was working with local and international organizations to take action against those who commit violence against the people, in accordance with the law.

In a statement on Nov. 8, Emergency Response Coordinator Martin Griffiths of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there are now more than 3 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance due to the growing conflict and the resulting insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic and Myanmar’s failing economy.

“Without an end to violence and a peaceful resolution of Myanmar’s crisis, this number will only rise,” Griffiths said.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence across the country, he said.

Myanmar has seen a growing number of intense firefights as the PDFs and some ethnic armed groups escalate their operations, including urban attacks against junta forces and junta-run businesses.

Meanwhile, regime forces continue their raids, crackdowns, arrests and arbitrary killings of civilians during operations to quell the anti-regime movement.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, 1,250 people have been slain and more than 9,900 people including elected government leaders have been arrested or detained by the junta, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy group that records deaths and arrests.

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