UN rights experts call on Myanmar to halt counter-insurgency drive targeting civilians

16 May 2006

United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Myanmar to urgently halt counter-insurgency military operations targeting civilians which have led to the forcible eviction and displacement of thousands of ethnic minority villagers.

“We are deeply concerned about the widespread violence that has continued to spiral for the last six months in the Thandaung and Papun townships of Karen state as well as Kyaukgyi and Shwegyin townships of Pegu Division,” the six experts said in a joint statement issued in Geneva.

“The military allegedly acted with excessive use of force and fire arms. Homes were demolished and according to reports, residents have been offered neither alternative housing nor any form of compensation. Other reports from various sources corroborate very serious allegations of unlawful killings, torture, rape and forced labour,” they added.

They voiced alarm over the state of destitution in which many displaced persons were forced to live, citing obstructed access to food, education, housing and health services.

“We deplore the violence against unarmed civilians by the Myanmar military and call for action to ensure no further excessive use of force is employed against persons belonging to any community in Myanmar,” they said.

“We remind the Government and non-State armed groups of their obligation to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict and that the current government strategy of targeting civilians in the course of its military operations represents a wilful abrogation of its responsibility under international humanitarian and human rights law.”

The experts are the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall; the Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari; the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler; and the Special Rapporteur on the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt.

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid experts serving in an independent personal capacity who received their mandate from the now defunct UN Commission on Human Rights and will report to the newly established and enhanced Human Rights Council.

 

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