The military government of Myanmar, which seized power in a coup in February 2021, has murdered civilians and carried out other war crimes in Myanmar’s eastern Karenni State, according to a report from the Fortify Rights human rights activist group.
The report, published on Tuesday, indicated that government forces had attacked civilian homes, churches, refugee camps, and several other non-military targets during the second half of 2021. Fortify Rights claimed that at least sixty-one civilians had been killed and hundreds had been injured in these attacks.
Ismail Wolff, an official at Fortify Rights, argued in a statement that the report’s conclusions provided support for an international arms embargo to be imposed on Myanmar. “The Myanmar junta is murdering people with weapons procured on the global market, and that must stop,” Wolff said in the statement.
“Clear and definitive action is needed to compel the … junta to rethink its attacks on civilians. The UN Security Council must urgently impose a global arms embargo on the Myanmar military,” Wolff added.
The report was based on testimony from more than thirty eyewitnesses and massacre survivors. It also revealed photos and videos depicting atrocities that occurred in Kayah, including images from the Christmas Eve massacre in the town of Hpruso, in which more than forty civilians were killed.
The report’s publication comes as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is scheduled to meet in Cambodia later this week to discuss ways to end the violence in Myanmar. The military junta has indicated that it will not attend the meeting, citing disagreements with the other members over the implementation of a peace plan in the country.
Wolff argued that it would be “strategic and sensible” for ASEAN to support the proposed UN arms embargo at the summit. Fortify Rights also recommended that the UN sanction natural gas from the country, the main source of income for the military junta.
More than 1,500 demonstrators have been killed in street protests across the country since the beginning of the coup, and more than 12,000 protestors have been arrested. The previous government’s two leaders, President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, have been imprisoned by the junta. Both were convicted of a handful of crimes shortly after the military takeover and sentenced to four years in prison. Their sentences, which many experts describe as politically motivated, were later extended after they received additional convictions on separate charges.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.