Conflicts & War

Myanmar military committing war crimes with landmines, says Amnesty

Bangkok Desk, Jul 20 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military is committing war crimes by planting antipersonnel landmines on a “massive scale” in and around villages where fighting between armed groups and the regime take place, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

A team of Amnesty investigators said that soldiers have placed landmines at the entrances of people’s homes, in backyards and near outside toilets, as well as on paths to rice fields in Kayah State (also known as Karenni State), where anti-military armed groups act.

“The Myanmar military’s use of landmines is abhorrent and cruel,” said Matt Wells, crisis response deputy director – thematic issues for Amnesty, which has received “credible information” the military has laid landmines in at least 20 villages.

The NGO’s researchers interviewed survivors and relatives of those who have died from mine explosions in several settlements in this state, which borders Thailand and where fighting has increased since May.

An unknown number of people have been killed or injured by the landmines, which Amnesty said are generally made by the military, including “the M-14, which typically blows off the victim’s foot at the ankle, and the more powerful MM-2, which often blows off the victim’s leg at the knee and causes injuries to other parts of the person’s body, with severe risk of death due to blood loss.”

The use of these is banned under customary international law, as well as the Mine Ban treaty, which Myanmar is not party to. The country’s military is the only state armed force confirmed to have used antipersonnel landmines in 2020-21, according to Landmine Monitor 2021.

Myanmar’s military, which ruled the country with an iron fist from 1962 to 20211 through a succession of military dictatorships, is known for its brutality and has been accused of committing atrocities and war crimes during decades of internal conflict.

The military junta’s coup d’etat on Feb. 1, 2021 ended a decade of incipient democracy and imposed violent repression on any dissent that has exacerbated the armed conflict in the country.

At least 2,092 civilians have been killed as a result of the violent repression carried out by security forces, according to the data collected by Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which does not count those killed during armed confrontation or any associated with the military regime. EFE


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