“What we are witnessing today is the systematic and widespread use of tactics against civilians, for which there are reasonable grounds to believe in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Since last year’s coup, at least 1,900 killings by the army have been reported, the UN has registered one million internally displaced people and some 14 million still need medical attention and urgent humanitarian aid.
“The humanitarian situation is dire,” Bachelet said, adding, the military coup ‘crippled Myanmar’s economy’, millions of people lost their incomes, the national currency plummeted and prices rose. “My Office continues to monitor and document the scale of violations on the ground,” she said.
The violence has escalated, with little military protection for civilians. Residents of southeastern Kayin and Kayah states, northwestern Chin state and the central regions of Sagaing and Magway have been detained and sometimes forcibly disappeared or used as human shields.
The army also violated international humanitarian law, including burning down entire villages, homes and schools, and destroying food stocks and other basic supplies.
Despite the repression and violence, “the strength and determination of the people of Myanmar, who continue to reject and resist the army and its attempts to assert their control”, impressed the senior UN official, who noted, however, that he “runs up against the continued use of arbitrary arrests and detentions.”
Since February 1, 2021, more than 13,500 people have reportedly been arrested for opposing the Burmese army’s takeover.
And a military spokesman recently announced that the authorities would carry out four executions.
“I urgently call on the military authorities to refrain from such a regressive move which would not only violate the right to life, but would further reduce the prospects for political reconciliation,” Ms. Bachelet said.