End Human Rights Violations in Eastern Myanmar sign now

International Appeal Letter Calling for The Immediate End to All Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Eastern Myanmar

To:
Brigadier General Hla Min, Head of the Southern Command of Myanmar,
Brigadier General Thet Naing Win, Head of the Southeastern Command of Myanmar,
Nyan Win, Myanmar Foreign Minister,
Kyaw Hsan, Myanmar Information Minister,
Dr. Nur Hassan Wirajuda, ASEAN Foreign Minister of Indonesia,
Sompong Amornviwat, ASEAN Foreign Minister of Thailand, and
Pham Gia Khiem, ASEAN Foreign Minister of Viet Nam

This letter is sent to you on behalf of members and supporters of the Amnesty International India Myanmar Action Network who are dismayed by the current violations of human rights taking place in eastern Myanmar.

We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, are awed and deeply concerned by the violations of human rights and humanitarian law taking place in the eastern Myanmar regions of Kayin State and Bago Division. We are calling for the immediate cessation of such atrocities, and for a thorough investigation into the matter such that responsible individuals are brought to justice.

Nearly 150,000 people are internally displaced in eastern Myanmar as a result of the military offensive. The Myanmar Armed Forces (tatmadaw) and its allies have subjected the Karen civilian population to human rights atrocities, including but not limited to: unlawful killings; torture and other ill-treatment; enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests; forced labour, including portering; and the destruction of villages, crops and homes. Karen villagers are targeted simply on account of their Karen ethnicity or their location in Karen majority areas, or in retribution for activities by armed opposition groups. Some villages have been totally or partially destroyed. In other villages the tatmadaw prevented farmers from cultivating their land or purchasing food supplies, and announced a shoot-to-kill policy for those found outside their villages. Tatmadaw demands for forced labour, destruction of crops and extensive food requisitioning have made it extremely hard for civilian villagers to survive.

The following reports are examples of abuses that have occurred within the Southern Command:

* In May 2006, villagers fled their homes in Sho Kho village, Thandaung township, Hpaan District, Kayin State, after soldiers came one day and began shooting them on sight.

* Also in Thandaung township in early 2006, a 47 year-old man lost his leg after stepping on a landmine placed near the village church. People from this area reported that they received no warning from the tatmadaw that they had mined the area.

* During 2006, in northeast Thandaung township, villagers were forced to build military barracks, including by gathering materials such as bamboo and leaves for the roofs.

* In late summer 2005, Pa Thoo Koo, a rice farmer, was detained by the tatmadaw after they found him working on his rice field in Dweh Loh township, Papun District, Kayin State. He was later shot dead.

* In April 2005, two villagers from Dweh Loh township had their heads held under water during interrogation by the DBKA who accused them of involvement in the KNLA. One of them later returned to his village paralysed.

We hereby urge that all acts violating international human rights and humanitarian law are immediately discontinued and are subjected to prompt, independent, and impartial investigations. All perpetrators, including those who ordered these shocking acts, must be brought to justice. We further urge you and the Myanmar government to ensure an end all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the tatmadaw and its aligned militias in the Kayin State and Bago Division. This includes immediately halting the targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attacks, extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture other ill-treatment, destruction of houses and crops, and forced labour.

Our specific recommendations are:

* The Myanmar State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) must put an immediate halt to all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by government forces and aligned militias, including the targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attacks, extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment, destruction of houses and crops, and forced labour.

* The SPDC should ensure that all acts violating international human rights and humanitarian law are subject to prompt, independent, and impartial investigations, and that suspected perpetrators, including those suspected of ordering these acts, regardless of rank, are brought to justice.

* The SPDC should ensure that victims of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law are provided with full reparation, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition.

* ASEAN members must urge the SPDC, both in the ASEAN framework and as individual member states, to immediately halt all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Kayin State and Bago Division, and to comply with their international legal obligations, including core obligations under the ASEAN Charter.

* Armed opposition groups should publicly undertake to observe the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits violence to life and person in internal conflicts, and other provisions of international humanitarian law applicable to non-international armed conflicts.

We sincerely hope that you will give urgent consideration to these concerns and our recommendations.

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