Asia - Pacific

UN ‘alarmed’ over deployment of heavy weapons by Myanmar army

Uptick in violence, internet shutdown seen across Myanmar, says spokeswoman for rights office

Peter Kenny   | 08.10.2021
UN ‘alarmed’ over deployment of heavy weapons by Myanmar army File Photo

GENEVA

Myanmar has seen a new deployment of heavy weapons and there are reports of mass arrests, torture, and summary executions, the UN Human Rights Office said on Friday.

“Alarming reports indicate that there has been the substantial deployment of heavy weapons and troops by the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, over the past few weeks,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani at a UN press conference.

She said the deployment took place in townships in the central Sagaing region, and Gangaw township in Magway.

Shamdasani said two high-level commanders had also been deployed while the internet was shut down.

“We are gravely concerned by these developments, particularly given the intensifying attacks by the military that we have documented over the past month in these areas,” said Shamdasani.

“We have seen an uptick in violence across the country. And this new deployment of heavy weapons and this very rare announcement that they will be deploying high-level commanders into these areas is very worrying,” she said.


Mass arrests, summary executions

“There have been reports of mass arrests, as well as torture and summary executions,” Shamdasani said.

Shamdasani said that military “clearance operations” have involved 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 and cast an information blackout over potential abuses.

Asked about the overall civilian death toll since the Feb. 1 coup, Shamdasani said figures were difficult to verify in getting information out of Myanmar.

The rights office is working with well-respected organizations in the country documenting killings, she said, adding: “They have estimated that more than 1,120 people have been killed by the military authorities since the first of February.”

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