As death toll mounts, 139 organizations worldwide urge ASEAN to help end war crimes in Burma
139 civil society organizations across the world have sought the involvement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in helping to protect civilians from “war crimes” being committed in the ongoing fight between government troops and rebel army in Chin and Rakhine States in the west of Burma.
The joint statement, initiated by Chin Human Rights Organization and Progressive Voice, was signed by regional rights groups such as ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Asia Forum for Human Rights – Forum Asia.
Invoking the Geneva Conventions and UN Security Council Resolution 1265 and 1296 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, the joint statement says, “The current targeting of innocent civilians in the conflict between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar military amounts to war crimes and must immediately cease.”
It came after weeks of escalating violence in southern Chin State, which saw the deaths of 29 villagers and injury of more than three dozen civilians in a series of Tatmadaw airstrikes on civilian populated areas.
Accusing the 10-member regional bloc of doing nothing to stop the violence the state groups’ statement reads: “ASEAN can seek to couple its humanitarian initiatives with engaging the government in addressing root causes of violence, while utilizing their good offices to seek a solution to the ongoing violence that is affecting countries beyond the borders of Myanmar.”
Both sides of the contlic are accused of deliberately targeting civilians and committing war crimes at a time when they should be working to protect civilians from the global coronavirus pandemic.
Burma’s ruling civilian government led by the National League for Democracy has recently designated the Arakan Army (AA) a terrorist organization for its unconventional and often brutal tactics of warfare, which include kidnappings, torture, forced disappearance of civilians etc.
Meanwhile, at least 10,000 civilians who are trapped in Paletwa Town, are facing imminent starvation as the main supply routes have been cut off due to the fighting.