Burma is sinking into an “endless spiral of military violence”, with the junta increasingly resorting to mass killings and airstrikes, the UN human rights agency said in a report published on Tuesday.
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At least 4,000 people have been killed in the conflict following the February 2021 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi, between the returning army and groups of political opponents and ethnic rebels.
“A seemingly endless spiral of military violence is consuming every aspect of life in Burma,” concluded the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which conducted more than 160 interviews between April 2022 and July 2023.
The agency noted “a significant increase” in serious human rights violations, reporting 22 incidents in which ten or more people were killed, mainly in central regions.
The growing use of airstrikes by the junta has spread fear among civilian populations, who have been targeted on several occasions, as in April (150 dead) in a stronghold of resistance to the military.
Soldiers raped and executed without any legal framework men, women and children in villages suspected of sheltering or supporting anti-putsch fighters, the agency noted.
Some displayed “decapitated or defiled” corpses to terrorize residents, the report added, echoing reports by local media and a conflict monitoring group.
Nearly 24,000 houses and buildings have been burned this year as part of the strategy of repression orchestrated by the junta against its adversaries, whom it calls “terrorists”.
The ruling resistance groups are also involved in killings of civilians accused of collaborating with the military regime, the UN said.
But “their scale cannot be compared with the violations committed by the army”, he is qualified.
The beheadings, rapes, massacres “are all indications of the military’s desire to go through with their campaign to stifle all opposition,” the report said.
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, led by the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have stalled, with the army refusing to engage with its opponents.