Amnesty International Accuses Myanmar Military of Potential War Crimes in Rebel Offensive

Thu Dec 21 2023
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NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar’s military is accused of committing potential war crimes, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the use of banned cluster munitions against ethnic minority insurgents, said Amnesty International on Thursday.

Rebel forces, part of the “Three Brotherhood Alliance,” launched coordinated attacks in Shan state and Rakhine state, leading to a significant challenge for the junta.

Amnesty reported an air strike using likely cluster munitions in Shan state, causing civilian casualties. The junta, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, faces allegations of looting, arbitrary arrests, and torture against civilians.

Over 300,000 people have fled the conflict since October, adding to the 2 million displaced since the 2021 coup. The United Nations has documented the impact on civilians, while China claims to have mediated a ceasefire, though the alliance insists on continuing its campaign.

The Myanmar military spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, has denied targeting civilians, labeling operations as legitimate actions against “terrorists.”

Prior to the release of the Amnesty report, the alliance, however, said that the military habitually menaced civilians, resorting to arbitrary arrests, human shields, and torture.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Human Rights Watch, based in New York, accused a specific rebel alliance faction of forcibly abducting and recruiting fleeing civilians in Shan state.

Elaine Pearson, the Asia director, declared, “The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is breaching the laws of war,” emphasizing the need for civilians to seek refuge without the fear of being coerced into military service by either the Myanmar military or ethnic armed groups.

The MNDAA has not promptly responded to requests for comment.

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