GENEVA - Myanmar’s military rulers now see civilians as their adversaries and are making war on the country’s own people, harming even the basic ability to live, the United Nations (UN) said Friday.
Two years on from the 2021 coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, the situation is a “festering catastrophe”, said UN human rights chief Volker Turk, adding that the military was operating with “complete impunity”.
In a report examining the first two years since the takeover, the UN Human Rights Office said that at least 2,940 people had been verified as killed, of which nearly 30 per cent died in detention.
However, the true death toll is likely to be much higher.
Mr James Rodehaver, head of the UN rights office’s Myanmar team, said the armed forces were now actively fighting on around 13 different fronts.
“The military is stretched increasingly thin,” he told a briefing in Geneva, so it has relied increasingly on air power and artillery to clear the way for ground forces, with more than 300 airstrikes in the last year.
Nearly 80 per cent of the country’s 330 townships have been impacted by armed clashes, the report said.
“There has never been a time and a situation in which a crisis in Myanmar has reached this far, this wide throughout the country,” said Mr Rodehaver.
“In the past, the conflicts have been more isolated in the ethnic states. Now it’s reaching even the Bamar heartland.”
UN reports indicate that nearly 39,000 houses nationwide have been burnt or destroyed in military operations since Feb 2022, “representing a more than 1,000-fold increase compared to 2021“, the UN rights office said.
The military and its affiliates have made 17,572 arrests in the first two years since the coup, it added.
The junta is using a so-called “four cuts” strategy: an attempt to cut off its adversaries’ food, recruitment, communications and access to money or a livelihood, said Mr Rodehaver.
“What they’re doing now is they are treating Myanmar’s people as their opponent and adversary,” he said.
“You have a military making war against its own people.
“They have really created a crisis that’s resulted in a loss, a regression in every human right, and that includes the basic ability to live and to have an economic future.” AFP