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UN fears for civilians after Myanmar military build-up

Myanmar has been in trouble since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in February. (file)


The United Nations on Friday sounded the alarm in Myanmar’s military junta over the deployment of heavy weapons and troops in special townships, fearing civilian populations.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the deployment of the two high-ranking commanders represented a worrying escalation in the situation.

“Alarming reports indicate that there has been a substantial deployment of heavy weapons and troops by the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military, over the past few weeks,” spokeswoman Raveena Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

Deployments have been made in Kanpetlet and Hakha townships in Chin State; Kani and Moniwa townships in the Central Saging area; and Gango Township in the Magway area, she said.

He said the internet has also been shut down.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in February, sparking mass protests and bloody crackdowns.

“We are deeply concerned by these incidents, especially in view of the intense attacks by the army that we have recorded in these areas in the last month,” Shamdasani said.

The attacks included “murders, raids on villages and burning of houses, apparently seeking armed resistance elements and as retaliation against people’s defense forces or villages sympathetic to ethnic armed groups”.

“There have been reports of mass arrests, as well as torture and summary executions. Military ‘evacuation operations’ have included artillery barrages and air strikes against villages,” Shamdasani said.

“Internet shutdowns have also meant that millions of people have lost the means of communication and obtaining information necessary for their survival, and an information blackout over potential abuses.”

He urged states with influence on the junta to “defuse the situation, protect civilian life and property, and ensure access to humanitarian aid for those who need it”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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