‘Increasingly brazen’ war crimes evident in Myanmar: UN

Independent Investigative Mechanism reports allege indiscriminate attacks on civilians from aerial bombing, mass executions of civilians and detained combatants.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) on Tuesday revealed compelling evidence of the country’s military and affiliate militias engaging in more frequent and audacious war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These include indiscriminate attacks on civilians from aerial bombing, mass executions of civilians and detained combatants, and large-scale and intentional burning of civilian homes and buildings, resulting in the destruction of entire villages in some cases, the Mechanism said in a news release.

“Every loss of life in Myanmar is tragic, but the devastation caused to whole communities through aerial bombardments and village burnings is particularly shocking,” said Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Mechanism.

He was referring to the military airstrike in Sagaing in April 2023 that reportedly killed more than 155 people.

“Our evidence points to a dramatic increase in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, with widespread and systematic attacks against civilians, and we are building case files that can be used by courts to hold individual perpetrators responsible,” Mr. Koumjian added. 

The Mechanism underscored that preventing and penalizing war crimes perpetrated by subordinates is an obligation of military commanders; and failure to fulfill this responsibility could render the commanders criminally liable under international law.  

“Repeatedly ignoring such crimes may indicate that the higher authorities intended the commission of these crimes,” it noted.

In its investigations into the most serious international crimes committed in Myanmar, the Mechanism collected information from over 700 sources, including more than 200 eyewitness accounts, as well as additional evidence such as photographs, videos, audio material, documents, maps, geospatial imagery, social media posts and forensic evidence.

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