The six-chapter report – Military Atrocities and Civilian Resilience – highlighted security for civilians in rural areas in southeastern Burma deteriorated in the first six months of the military coup, and human rights abuses escalated causing thousands of villagers to be displaced.
Naw Htoo Htoo, KHRG’s Program Director said at the release of the report on November 24, the Burma Army is involved in a ‘clearance operation’ and human rights abuses against civilians have increased and are widespread.
“The most common human rights violations are shootings. When they want to arrest villagers, they do and then force people to be their porters. As soon as troops entered villages, they take civilians as porters. Villagers, including women, are increasingly being used as human shields.”
The KHRG report found more than 400 villagers were abducted and forced to be human shields, and porters to carry Burma Army munitions and supplies. Naw Htoo Htoo pointed out similarities between previous Burma Army ‘clearance operations’ in Karen State where food, telecommunications, aid and other basic needs were cut off in what was known as the ‘four-cuts’.
The KHRG report collected data from interviews with 133 people including villagers, anti-coup protesters and members of the Civil Disobedience Movement from the start of the coup in February until June this year.
Naw Hser Hser, secretary of the Women League of Burma, said human right violations in Karen State as documented in the KHRG report follow a pattern of violence and humanitarian abuses happening across the country.
“In this current situation, everyone is at risk. The KHRG report highlights the real situation of what’s happening on the ground – it’s the voices of villagers, protesters and members of the anti-coup movement.”
Saw Nanda Hsu, KHRG’s Advocacy Officer said most of the abuses in Karen State are in the northern areas of Mutraw (Papun) district where the Burma Army launched its offensives and they are the main perpetrator of crimes against humanity.
“Violations committed by Burma Army soldiers during its attacks have threatened the security of villagers. The Burma Army orders of shoot-on-sight and their extra-judicial killing are serious violations of humanitarian law.”
The KHRG report calls for an end to villagers being used as human shields and the use of ‘four-cuts’ strategy by the Burma Army. The report urged the international community and organizations to refrain from legitimizing the military-appointed State Administration Council and for sanctions to be increased and imposed on the SAC. The KHRG report said there was an urgent need to increase humanitarian assistance for those displaced by the Burma Army through cooperation with ethnic armed groups and civil society organizations, including the National Union Government.
The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) was formed in 1992. It is an independent civil society organization that publishes reports on human rights abuses in southeastern Burma, educates and advocates on human rights issues.