The U.N. human rights office warns the deployment of troops and heavy weapons by the Myanmar military into Chin state, Central Sagaing and Magway regions over the past few weeks may portend an imminent attack in these areas.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet has been raising concerns for some time about a possible military crackdown on growing civilian resistance to the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces.
The commissioner’s spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, says the announcement that two special operations commanders have been directed to address the conflict in these areas has set alarm bells ringing.
“The deployment of these high-level commanders coupled with the internet shutdown and the deployment of heavy arms to this area has really led us to become very alarmed and concerned that there may be an imminent attack, a very serious attack against the civilian population, which is why we are raising the alarm today,” Shamdasani said.
More than 1,200 people reportedly have been killed since the military overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
Shamdasani said violations and mass detentions of civilians have stepped up since September 7. This escalating abuse, she noted, coincides with the declaration of a peoples’ defensive war against the Myanmar military regime.
Over the past month, she says, her office has documented many attacks by the military in Chin state, Central Sagaing and Magway.
She said people have been killed, villages raided, and houses burned in an apparent effort to find armed resistance elements and sympathizers of ethnic armed groups.
“There have been reports of mass arrests, as well as torture and summary executions. Military “clearance operations” have involved the use of artillery barrages and airstrikes against villages. The internet shutdowns have also meant that millions of people have lost the means to communicate and obtain information necessary for their survival,” she said.
Shamdasani said the military government has not responded to the report. She noted that's because the United Nations does not recognize the Tatmadaw authorities as Myanmar’s legitimate rulers. Therefore, she said, her agency and other U.N. agencies have no direct contact with them.
Last month, Myanmar military spokesman Saw Min Tun said opposition groups, known as the National Unity Government, were trying to destabilize the country but were headed for failure.
The spokesman also accused media outlets of “spreading fake news” on the situation in Myanmar, according to Reuters.