Conflicts & War

Satellite images confirm reports of Myanmar army torching towns: HRW

Bangkok, Nov 3 (EFE).- Satellite images analyzed by non-profit Human Rights Watch show the presence of several active fires in a town in northwestern Myanmar’s Chin state confirming local media reports that the military has destroyed 160 homes using fire bombs.

“Human Rights Watch reviewed thermal anomaly data collected by an environmental satellite sensor that detected the presence of multiple active fires in Thantlang town,” the human rights organization said in a statement.

“The thermal anomalies were detected for the first time on Oct. 29 at 12:29 pm local time. The readings are consistent with reports of fires burning buildings during the day, depicted in photos and videos circulated around this time by the media and human rights groups,” it added.

The satellite also detected thermal anomalies 12 hours later, confirming reports of more fires at night in this remote Myanmar town, which had about 10,000 inhabitants until clashes with the military in recent weeks forced most of its population to flee.

Military spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun blamed the Chinland Defense Force civilian militia for torching the houses as they fled after their clash with the soldiers, an accusation that the armed group denies.

A CDF spokesperson told media outlet Myanmar Now that soldiers were setting fire to houses for “no reason”, a tactic reminiscent of the one used over the last decade against members of the Rohingya community, discriminated against in the country.

In 2017, human rights organizations and victims had denounced the burning of villages, murders and rapes in the state of Arakan, in a campaign that the UN described as “ethnic cleansing.”

The CDF, a militia formed shortly after the military coup on Feb. 1, and the Chin National Army are part of pro-democracy forces fighting the military junta in several parts of the country over the past few months.

On Sep. 7, the self-designated National Unity Government – formed by leaders and activists close to ousted leader Aun San Suu Kyi – had declared a “defensive war” against the Myanmar military.

In the nine months after the coup, at least 1,233 people have been killed in the repression unleased by the security forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The Myanmar junta justifies the coup citing alleged electoral fraud in the now annulled election results in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory. EFE


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