Bangkok, Apr 29 (efe-epa).- The United Nations Special Rapporteur said Wednesday that Myanmar’s military could be involved in crimes against humanity amid the conflict with the Arakan Army in the western region of the country.
“While the world is occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar military continues to escalate its assault in Rakhine State, targeting the civilian population,” Yanghee said Lee in a statement.
Lee accused the Myanmar Army of conducting air and artillery strikes in civilian areas of Rakhine – along the Bangladesh border – and the neighboring region of Chin.
Lee also said those injured were deprived from accessing medical services and destroyed schools and houses along with detaining suspected members of the AA and torturing them without allowing them legal guarantees.
She highlighted an incident that took place on Apr. 13 in which eight people including two children were killed by the military in Kyauk Seik village. She further said that in another incident, 10 men disappeared while hundreds of people were killed by the military, including women and children in a conflict which has displaced more than 157,000 people.
“The Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) is systematically violating the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights. Its conduct against the civilian population of Rakhine and Chin States may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Lee added while calling for a ceasefire.
The AA was created in 2009 by a group of predominantly Buddhist and majority Rakhine ethnic Arakan students to fight for state autonomy, like so many other armed groups representing the country’s ethnic minorities. Many have been fighting against the central government since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, and some are allies of the AA.
The conflict intensified in January 2019, when the Government designated the AA as a “terrorist organization” on Feb.23.
Only one other group of dozens operating in Burma is currently classified as an extremist organization by the Government: the Rohingya Salvation Army of Arakan (ARSA). It took up arms to fight for the rights of the predominantly Rohingya Muslim minority, whom authorities deny citizenship and qualify as “Bengali immigrants.”
After a series of ARSA attacks in August 2017 in northern Arakan, the Burmese Army launched a brutal military campaign after which the majority of the Rohingya population, more than 730,000, fled to neighboring Bangladesh. For it, the military and the government face an accusation of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. EFE-EPA