According to the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), enforced disappearance is described as a deliberate extrajudicial action undertaken by individuals or groups to intentionally make someone vanish. The majority of the victims subjected to these disappearances are men, and KHRG suggests that the actual number of disappeared individuals on the ground could surpass the reported figure of 72.
August 30 marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, and on this significant date, the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) released a statement to commemorate the occasion.
“Regardless of the perpetrators, this is a heinous crime. If members of armed forces grasped and followed international humanitarian law, also known as the law of war, such incidents could be decreased and dignity could be elevated,” conveyed KHRG spokesperson Saw Nanda Hsue.
Enforced disappearance cases encompass instances of arrest and imprisonment by the Military Council without notifying family members, utilization as human shields, forced involvement in landmine clearance, and disappearances following accusations of being informers (da-lan) by armed forces operating in Karen State. These actions are in direct violation of international humanitarian law, according to the statement.
Similarly, it is essential for civil and community-based organizations to actively pursue justice through initiatives that increase awareness and coordinate actions addressing enforced disappearances. The statement by KHRG underscores the significance of advocating for the voices of victims and their families.
To combat the heinous crime of enforced disappearance and ensure justice for victims and their families, KHRG strongly urges international and relevant actors to take concrete and impactful steps in eradicating enforced disappearances. This includes exerting pressure on those responsible for accountability, establishing a robust investigation mechanism, and implementing preventive measures.
“The authorities need to establish proper laws in their areas. This would prevent enforced disappearances. The government in the region, along with the KNU and the National Unity Government (NUG) in Southeastern Myanmar, as well as the armed forces under their command, must establish investigative mechanisms. We also require unbiased international experts,” expressed Saw Nanda Hsue.
Additionally, KHRG emphasizes in a statement the ongoing need to investigate instances of violations and to provide essential assistance across Myanmar, covering ethnic regions and the southern area. This includes ensuring justice is served and offering comprehensive support—both physical and psychological—to the victims as well as their family members.
Frequently, when the Military Council initiates military operations within territories controlled by the KNU, they apprehend residents of villages along the operation routes as human shields for their own security. In cases considered suspicious, these individuals are killed without proper verification, and their bodies being concealed, KNU and local residents said.