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The use of landmines by the Myanmar military amounts to a war crime: amnesty

#landmines #Myanmar #military #amounts #war #crime #amnesty

Junta forces in Myanmar are committing war crimes by planting “massive scale” landmines around villages where they are fighting anti-coup militants, human rights campaigns group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Fighting has devastated much of the country since last year’s coup that sparked renewed clashes with ethnic rebel groups and the formation of dozens of “People’s Defense Forces” now fighting the junta.

During a visit to Kayah state, near the Thai border, Amnesty researchers interviewed landmine survivors, medical workers who had treated them and others involved in clearance operations, the organization said.

There is “credible information” that the military has used mines in at least 20 villages, including on paths to rice paddies, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.

Amnesty also said it had documented several instances where the military had planted mines around a church and on its grounds.

“Soldiers have planted land mines in people’s yards, at the entrances of houses and in front of toilets,” Amnesty said.

“In at least one documented instance, soldiers have booby-trapped a stairwell with an improvised tripwire explosive device.”

Members of the anti-junta group attempted to demine some areas, but the work was done “by hand, with only rudimentary equipment and no professional training,” she added.

“We know from bitter experience that the number of civilian deaths and injuries will increase over time and widespread contamination is already preventing people from returning to their homes and farmlands,” said Rawya Rageh, the senior crisis adviser the group.

Myanmar is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention banning the use, stockpiling or development of anti-personnel mines.

Its military have repeatedly been accused of atrocities and war crimes during decades of internal conflict.

Military violence against the Rohingya minority in 2017 caused an estimated 750,000 people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, sparking reports of rape, murder and arson.

In March, the United States declared the violence against the Rohingya to be genocide and said there was clear evidence of an attempt to “annihilate” them.

The Gambia dragged Myanmar before the International Court of Justice in 2019, accusing the predominantly Buddhist country of genocide against the Muslim minority.

The Hague-based court is due to deliver its verdict on Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the case later this week.

After the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, the military cracked down on dissidents, who a local surveillance group says has killed more than 2,000 people and arrested nearly 15,000.

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