Atrocity Alert #310: Myanmar (Burma), Afghanistan and Libya – Myanmar
Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication from the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect that highlights situations where people are at risk of or suffer mass atrocities.
FIRST EXECUTIONS IN MYANMAR IN DECADES HIGHLIGHT ON-GOING MILITARY REPRESSION
Myanmar (Burma) the army – also known as the Tatmadaw – announced on July 25 that it had executed two democracy activists, along with two other men, marking the first known executions in the country since 1988. Accused of violent resistance against the army, the four men – Phyo Zeya Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Ko Jimmy), Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw – were sentenced to death by military tribunals during closed periods. , politically motivated trials. Since the February 2021 coup, more than 100 people in Myanmar have been sentenced to death, according to the Political Prisoners Assistance Association. The executions indicate a serious escalation in the repression of the Tatmadaw.
The executions were widely condemned by the international community, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the Association of South Asian Nations -East (ASEAN) and several governments, among others. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said: “These depraved acts must be a turning point for the international community. What more does the junta need to do before the international community is ready to take strong action? »
The executions took place amid growing evidence of mass atrocities perpetrated by the military across the country, including the scorched earth campaign to the northwest. Last week the army killed at least ten people and burned around 500 houses in a raid on a predominantly Muslim village in the Sagaing area – a stronghold of the resistance. The bodies of the victims were found burned beyond recognition with their hands tied. Amnesty International also recently reported that the Tatmadaw “systematically” lays “large-scale” anti-personnel landmines in and around at least 20 villages in Kayah State. The army reportedly planted landmines in homes, farmlands and church grounds, threatening the lives and livelihoods of civilians in contaminated areas. The military’s use of banned landmines likely amounts to war crimes.
The international community – particularly ASEAN and the UN Security Council – has a responsibility to respond to the worsening crisis in Myanmar with more than words. The military should heed High Commissioner Bachelet’s calls by reinstating Myanmar’s de facto suspension of the death penalty. All political prisoners and other arbitrarily detained must be immediately released. Member States must stop supplying arms and weapons to Myanmar and support efforts to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities.
UNAMA REPORT UNVEILS SYSTEMATIC HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY TALIBAN
On July 20, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan since the Taliban militarily took over the country August 15, 2021. UNAMA findings reveal that the de facto Taliban authorities are responsible for a wide range of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment, excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions. These violations appear to be perpetrated in a systematic and widespread manner.
The Taliban have systematically targeted certain groups. According to the report, those most affected were former government officials and military personnel despite promises of amnesty. The report highlights that government officials and the military were victims of 160 extrajudicial executions, 178 arbitrary arrests and detentions, 23 cases of incommunicado detention and 56 incidents of torture and ill-treatment. The Taliban has also perpetrated numerous human rights violations and abuses against people accused of being affiliated with armed groups, such as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan (ISIL-K) and the national resistance. At least 163 media professionals and 64 human rights defenders have been affected by similar violations since August 15.
The report lists 2,106 civilian casualties, including 700 killed and 1,406 injured, since the Taliban took power. Casualties are mainly attributed to ISIL-K following targeted attacks against minority ethnic and religious communities, especially Shia Hazara, Shia Muslims and Sufi Muslims. ISIL-K carried out these attacks primarily with improvised explosive devices in places of worshipeducation and other civil spheres.
The deterioration in respect for human rights and the protection of civilians has been exacerbated by broader restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and opinion, as well as sweeping restrictions on women’s rights to participate fully in public and daily life. According to UNAMA, the erosion of women’s rights over the past eleven months is “one of the most notable aspects” of the Taliban regime to date. Markus Potzel, Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, stressed: “It is high time that all Afghans can live in peace and rebuild their lives after 20 years of armed conflict…The people of Afghanistan, especially women and girls, are deprived of the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
The de facto Taliban authorities must uphold all obligations under international human rights law, as well as ensure the equal protection and promotion of the human rights of all Afghans. The Taliban must investigate the patterns of human rights violations documented by UNAMA and take immediate action to prevent future violations, including holding perpetrators accountable. The Taliban should also allow the international community to help them fulfill all these obligations.
UN URGES MOVE FORWARD ON POLITICAL STALE IN LIBYA AMID CLASHES IN TRIPOLI
On July 21, clashes broke out between armed groups in Libya capital of Tripoli, killing at least nine civilians, including three children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Sporadic fighting took place in several populated areas of Tripoli, causing damage to civilian infrastructure and homes. UNICEF condemned the fighting, stressing that “all children in Libya deserve to live their lives in peace and free from the constant threat of violence”. Two days later, brief skirmishes broke out between rival armed groups along the main coastal road on the outskirts of Misrata city.
Armed clashes in Tripoli and skirmishes in Misrata are the latest escalation in a protracted constitutional and political stalemate. After successive rival governments disputed control of the country for several years, in March 2021, an interim government was established. Presidential elections originally scheduled for December 2021 have been postponed indefinitely due to security concerns and fundamental disagreements over some aspects of the elections. Demonstrations erupted across the country in early July, with protesters expressing frustration over ongoing political divisions and rising commodity prices in Tripoli. Some protesters set fire to the parliament building in the eastern city of Tobruk on July 1.
The cycles of political stalemate that followed the overthrow of former President Muammar Gaddafi repeatedly turned into armed conflicts that had a devastating impact on civilians in Libya for more than a decade. The Fact-Finding Mission on Libya mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council has alleged that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Libya during these cycles of violence since 2016 by all parties to the conflict, including third states, foreign fighters and mercenaries. .
The latest clashes in Tripoli are heightening tensions and increasing the risk of atrocities. On July 25, Martha Pobee, UN Under-Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, warned that the standoff was prolonging a highly unstable security environment and human rights violations. According to Assistant Secretary-General Pobee, there is a risk of escalation as armed groups mobilize behind their favored political leaders and military activity has increased in the western region.
The international community must continue to support the Libyan transition. The political elites in Libya must heed the calls of their people and show responsible leadership by addressing the main drivers of the political stalemate and allowing elections to be held as soon as possible.