Escalating Human Rights Crisis in Myanmar: Urgent Action Needed
East and South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On 11 September 2023, the United Nations highlighted the issue, that Myanmar is grappling with a growing human rights catastrophe that demands the world's immediate attention (UN, 11 September 2023). The frequency and intensity of war crimes and crimes against humanity have surged in recent months, marked by brazen aerial bombings, indiscriminate shelling, and atrocities against innocent civilians, including children (UN, 11 September 2023; UNHRC, 11 September 2023). As the crisis deepens, it is crucial to shed light on the harrowing situation unfolding in this troubled nation (UN, 11 September 2023; UNHRC, 11 September 2023).
Myanmar’s recurring waves of violence, is now witnessing a stark escalation in the scale of atrocities committed (UN, 11 September 2023; UNHRC, 11 September 2023). A shocking estimate of 10,000 Rohingya men, women, and children have lost their lives, with over 300 villages razed to the ground during the 2016 and 2017 clearance operations (UN, 11 September 2023). More than 700,000 Rohingya were forcibly displaced, adding to the misery of tens of thousands who had previously fled persecution (UN, 11 September 2023). Additionally, the ongoing crisis has led to an increase in executions, torture, sexual violence, and arrests, with countless civilians caught in the crossfire (UN, 11 September 2023; UNHRC, 11 September 2023).
This escalating crisis in Myanmar is not merely a matter of internal conflict; it is a severe violation of international human rights principles (UN, 11 September 2023; UNHRC, 11 September 2023). Multiple provisions of international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, clearly prohibit the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Myanmar, as a signatory to these conventions, is bound by these provisions, and its military junta must be held accountable for its actions.
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) has tirelessly worked to collect evidence of these heinous crimes, even in the face of limited access to the country (UN, 11 September 2023). The Mechanism has gathered compelling evidence of the burning of Rohingya villages, sexual and gender-based violence, and the assaults and killings of civilians (UN, 11 September 2023). Furthermore, it has highlighted the organized dissemination of hate speech content on Facebook by the Myanmar military during the 2017 clearance operations (UN, 11 September 2023).
The people of Myanmar continue to suffer deeply from the relentless and horrific crimes being committed against them (UN, 11 September 2023). The UN and the international community urges the international community to take swift and decisive action to address this crisis (UN, 11 September 2023). In the face of such flagrant violations of human rights the principles of justice and accountability must prevail, and it is the world’s collective responsibility to ensure that they do. Inaction in the face of such flagrant violations of human rights is not an option, and we must remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice for the people of Myanmar.
- (11 September 2023). War crimes intensifying: Myanmar human rights investigators. Available at https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/09/1140592.
UNHCR. (11 September 2023). Intensity of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Have Increased in Myanmar, Independent Mechanism tells Human Rights Council. Availability https://www.ohchr.org/en/news/2023/09/intensity-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-have-increased-myanmar-independent.