Myanmar Regime Airstrikes Break International Law: NUG

By The Irrawaddy 23 December 2021

Myanmar’s military regime is being accused of breaching the Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law by repeatedly using its air force to attack civilian targets across the country.

By Dec. 22, the junta used its air force, including helicopters and fighter jets, to indiscriminately attack civilians, People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and ethnic armed groups in almost 20 townships in Sagaing, Magwe and Tanintharyi regions and Kachin, Chin, Shan and Kayah states, according to U Aung Myo Min, the human rights minister in the shadow National Unity Government and other sources.

During the junta airstrikes, civilians and resistance fighters were killed and several thousand civilians fled homes. Thousands of civilian homes have been burned down in regime raids.

U Aung Myo Min posted on Facebook on Wednesday that the regime is murdering from the skies.

“Airstrikes on civilian targets is prohibited under both domestic and international law. It is breaching international humanitarian law,” said the civilian minister.

Airstrikes on civilians are also prohibited under the 1977 Geneva Convention, which the then junta ratified in 1992.

Aerial bombardment to terrorize civilian populations, destroy or damage private property or injure non-combatants is prohibited by the 1923 Hague Rules of Air Warfare.

Regime airstrikes have targeted civilians in villages in Magwe and Sagaing regions in recent days.

On Monday, the regime used five helicopters against Yay Myat village in Ye-U Township, Sagaing.

The junta media’s only reported a ground attack on the village. The report said: “The security forces raided the village in response to a tipoff by villagers that the KIA [Kachin Independence Army], extremist members of the NLD [National League for Democracy] and so-called PDF terrorists were meeting in the village to plan terror attacks.”

It claimed six people were killed, arms and ammunition were seized and PDF troops torched houses.

However, villagers said their houses were burned in the airstrikes and 500 villagers from Yay Myat and nearby villages fled their homes.

Last Friday, two helicopters attacked Hnan Khar village in Gangaw Township, Magwe Region, with machine guns, while around 100 junta troops were airlifted in to raid the village in five transit helicopters, according to residents.

A military fighter jet circled the village, said Gangaw PDF. The airstrike came while regional PDFs were meeting to discuss action to stop illegal logging and drug dealing, Gangaw PDF’s leader told The Irrawaddy.

Seven civilians and two PDF fighters were confirmed dead and around 3,500 villagers fled homes while several hundred remained trapped in the village, a resident said.

Two of the Hnan Khar villagers were shot in the head after being detained and tied up by regime soldiers. The two were seized while working in their fields and tending cattle outside the village.

Three others were also detained.

Photos show the village being hit by helicopters.

In early December, the regime forces used a Russian-made Mi-35 helicopter to attack PDFs in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region.

Due to airstrikes and shelling by the junta, around 2,000 civilians from 10 villages fled their homes while six villagers were killed by regime forces after being detained.

In late November, the junta used five helicopters to attack civilian targets and deploy reinforcements at Nyaung Hla village in Tabayin.

The helicopters attacked everyone they could see, a villager told The Irrawaddy, killing two civilians and wounding three others. Around 30,000 residents from approximately 15 villages fled homes. Houses, crops and motorbikes were destroyed.

“It is clear that besides launching airstrikes, the regime forces are deliberately forcing civilians to leave their homes by destroying whole villages and their food,” posted U Aung Myo Min.

“Without being attacked, they have opened fire on houses and running civilians.”

Myanmar’s junta atrocities continue, including detaining, torturing and killing civilians, using civilians as human shields, shelling residential areas, looting and burning houses, and acts of sexual violence, especially in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin, Shan and Kayah states where the PDFs are most active.

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, a group of prominent former United Nations human rights observers, said on Dec. 14 that the junta should be designated as a terrorist organization for its extreme acts of criminal violence against civilians.

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