23 Oct 2021, 10:10

UN fears 'mass atrocity crimes' in Myanmar as troops gather in north

  UNITED NATIONS, United States, Oct 22, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The UN said Friday

it feared an even greater human rights catastrophe in Myanmar amid reports of
thousands of troops massing in the north of the Southeast Asian country,
which has been in chaos since a February coup.

  "We should all be prepared, as the people in this part of Myanmar are
prepared, for even more mass atrocity crimes. I desperately hope that I am
wrong," said UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews.

  More than 1,100 civilians have been killed in the country's bloody
crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested since the coup, according
to a local monitoring group.

  Andrews, who was presenting the findings of an annual human rights report
on Myanmar to the General Assembly, said that he had received information
that tens of thousands of troops and heavy weapons were being moved into
restive regions in the north and northwest.

  The findings, he said, also indicated that the junta had engaged in
probable crimes against humanity and war crimes.

  "These tactics are ominously reminiscent of those employed by the military
before its genocidal attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016
and 2017," Andrews said.

  About 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017 after security
forces launched a clampdown that the UN has said may amount to genocide.

  Andrews urged countries to deny Myanmar's military junta the money, weapons
and legitimacy it desired, citing a prisoner release earlier in the week as
evidence that pressure was working.

  On Monday, Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing announced the release of
more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against the coup.

  The move came just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
delivered a major snub to the military regime, exclude the junta head from an
upcoming summit of the 10-country bloc.

  "ASEAN's announcement that the junta will not be welcome at its upcoming
summit strikes at the heart," Andrews said.

  Andrews said that junta-controlled forces had displaced a quarter million
people. Many of those who had been detained were tortured, he said, including
dozens who had died as a result.

  Andrews added that he had received credible reports that children had also
been tortured.

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