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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Rampant Violations in Myanmar Could Constitute Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes

By Lisa Schlein June 15, 2022

In her oral update on conditions in Myanmar, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for action to bring Myanmar's generals to account and return the country to democratic rule. She told the council that the lives and future of Myanmar's people are hanging in the balance.

Since the coup in February 2021, she said at least 1,900 people have been killed and one million internally displaced. She also said the military coup has crippled Myanmar's economy, millions of people have lost their jobs, and 14 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

She said the junta has intensified its military operations and violence in several ethnic states, amplifying the suffering of civilians.

"Local residents are often detained, and in some cases may have been forcibly disappeared or used as human shields. A well-documented tactic of the military is the burning of entire villages, residential buildings, schools, houses of worship, and other objects specially protected under international humanitarian law."

She said the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine State continues, making the return of nearly one million Rohingya, who have taken refuge in Bangladesh, unrealistic.

High Commissioner Bachelet has criticized international efforts to rein in the military's recklessly violent behavior as largely ineffective. She said sustained and concrete action must be taken to stem the violence.

"I urge all member states, particularly those with the highest level access and influence, to intensify their pressure on the military leadership. Available measures include placing increased restrictions targeting military-controlled financial holdings and business interests and limiting their access to foreign currencies to restrict their ability to purchase military equipment and supplies."

Myanmar was stripped of its right of reply at the council. It was not able to respond to the high commissioner's report because the United Nations does not recognize the legitimacy of Myanmar's military leadership.

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