War crimes by Myanmar's military “more frequent and brazen”, UN investigators say
PHOTO CAPTION: A view of a Myanmar fighter jet in Phop Phra district in Tak province, Thailand June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
GENEVA (Reuters) - War crimes committed by Myanmar's military, including the bombing of civilians, have become "increasingly frequent and brazen", a team of United Nations investigators said in a report published on Tuesday.
The report by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), which covered the period between July 2022 and June 2023, said there was "strong evidence that the Myanmar military and its affiliate militias have committed three types of combat-related war crimes with increasing frequency and brazenness".
These crimes include the indiscriminate or disproportionate targeting of civilians using bombs and the burning of civilian homes and buildings, resulting at times in the destruction of entire villages, it said.
The report also cited "killings of civilians or combatants detained during operations".
"Our evidence points to a dramatic increase in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, with widespread and systematic attacks against civilians, and we are building case files that can be used by courts to hold individual perpetrators responsible," said Nicholas Koumjian, head of the IIMM.
Since a junta seized power two years ago, Myanmar has been plunged into chaos, with a resistance movement fighting the military on multiple fronts after a bloody crackdown on opponents that saw Western countries re-impose sanctions.
A spokesperson for the junta could not be reached for comment on the findings made by U.N. investigators.
The junta has previously denied atrocities have taken place, saying it is carrying out a legitimate campaign against terrorists.
Although it has justified bombings as attacks against military targets, UN investigators said the Myanmar military "should have known or did know" that a large number of civilians were in or around the alleged targets when the attacks took place.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Thu Thu Aung; Editing by Gareth Jones)