April 2023International News

Myanmar Military Kills Over 50 People Including Civilians in Air Attack

Joseph Brennan
Staff Writer

On May 15, 2023, the Myanmar military carried out an air raid on Pa Zi Gyi Village in the Kayah state. The attack resulted in the deaths of at least 100 people, including children, who were attending an opening ceremony for an office run by the People’s Defense Forces, a rebel group that had allegedly attacked a military base earlier that day, reports BBC News. The military claimed to have targeted the group, but their attack resulted in a devastating loss of innocent lives. According to a citizen from the village, Ko Aung, he had to hide under a bridge to avoid being shot by Mi-35 helicopters that were firing at civilians from the sky, according to Al Jazeera. The international community has strongly condemned the air raid, with the United Nations calling for an immediate end to the violence. This incident highlights the ongoing conflict between the military junta that rules Myanmar and rebel paramilitaries primarily made up of ethnic minority groups in the country. 

The ongoing violence in Myanmar has led to widespread displacement and human rights abuses leading many observers to demand actions from the international community to protect human rights in the country, according to Amnesty International. The military’s continued attacks against civilians have generated growing calls for accountability for those responsible for these reported atrocities. 

The air raid is one of the deadliest incidents since the military coup in February 2021, which overthrew the democratically elected government and has led to ongoing protests and civil unrest. The situation has been further exacerbated by the military’s ongoing attacks against ethnic minority groups. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement expressing his horror at the incident. Myanmar has been embroiled in civil conflict since 1948, when the country gained independence, according to the Brookings Institute. Since then, the military has been a dominant force in the country’s politics.

Much of the current violence was exacerbated by the February 2021 coup in which the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, seized power from the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), reports the New York Times. The military declared a year-long state of emergency and detained Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other top NLD leaders. The military claimed that the coup was necessary to prevent alleged voter fraud during the November 2020 elections, which the NLD won by a landslide. However, the international community widely condemned the coup, with many countries and organizations denouncing it as a violation of democratic norms and human rights. The military has used brutal tactics, including live ammunition, to disperse protests and has imposed internet shutdowns and curfews to stifle dissent. The United Nations has reported widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings. 

The Rohingya crisis, in which the military carried out a brutal crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim minority, described as a genocide by most observers, also brought global attention to Myanmar’s long-standing issues, according to Human Rights Watch. The Rohingya crisis is an ongoing conflict in Myanmar, where the Rohingya Muslim minority faces persecution and discrimination from the Buddhist-majority government, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. This crisis has been marked by violence, displacement, and human rights abuses, with the Rohingya facing restrictions on their movement, access to healthcare and education, and citizenship rights. The military’s coup in February 2021 has further escalated the conflict, with mass protests and a new wave of violence. The coup leaders have faced widespread condemnation and sanctions from the international community, but they have shown no signs of backing down, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Amnesty International has also documented ongoing human rights violations and abuses by the military junta in Myanmar since the coup in February 2021. The report highlights the use of excessive force by the military against peaceful protesters, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. The military has also engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters, journalists, activists, and political figures. The report documents the use of torture, inhumane treatment, and sexual violence against detainees, including rape and other forms of sexual assault. 

The Amnesty International report calls for an end to the impunity enjoyed by the military in Myanmar and for the restoration of democracy in the country. The military has implemented measures to restrict access to information and limit freedom of expression, including internet shutdowns and media censorship. The report highlights the ongoing human rights crisis in Myanmar and the urgent need for action to protect the rights and dignity of the people of Myanmar.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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