The Myanmar military is using lethal tactics and an arsenal of battlefield weapons to carry out a “rampage” against peaceful protesters opposing the February 1 coup, Amnesty International said Thursday after seeing video and photo evidence from recent weeks of the Analyzed mass protests.
The cache of 55 video clips provides visual evidence of the “systematic and premeditated killings,” Amnesty said in a report Thursday when it called on the UN Security Council and the international community to take action to curb the violence.
“These military tactics in Myanmar are far from new, but their assassinations have never been broadcast live by the world,” said Joanne Mariner, director of crisis response at Amnesty International.
Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab reviewed more than 50 videos of the ongoing crackdown and confirmed that security forces “appear to be implementing planned, systematic strategies, including increased use of deadly force”.
“Many of the documented murders are extrajudicial executions,” said the rights group.
#VIDEO – North Okkalapa, Yangon. # WhatsHappeningInMyanmar #MilkTeaAlliance # Mar10Coup https://t.co/PoZTgLom3D pic.twitter.com/9iE4JEw3Tc
Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) March 10, 2021
The footage clearly shows that Myanmar military forces, also known as Tatmadaw, “are increasingly armed with weapons suitable only for the battlefield, not police operations,” the report added.
The officers were captured on videos, often featured in “reckless behavior” including the indiscriminate use of live ammunition in built-up areas.
The latest findings support a February Amnesty report that found security forces using machine guns against peaceful protesters and shooting a woman in the head during an anti-junta demonstration.
On Wednesday, police officers who fled to India told Reuters that they had been instructed by the military to target and “shoot” protesters until they are dead.
Myanmar entered political crisis on February 1 after the military arrested the country’s elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and seized power in a coup, without claiming that last November’s elections were fraudulent.
In the weeks since then, there have been almost daily protests against the coup and a mass campaign against civil disobedience, with doctors, teachers, factory workers and others going on strike. The military has responded with increasing violence, and the United Nations said last week that at least 50 people had been killed.
“These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officials who make bad decisions. These are unrepentant commanders who are already involved in crimes against humanity and who openly use their troops and murderous methods, ”the Amnesty report reads.
“The military authorities must immediately stop their deadly attack, de-escalate the situation across the country and release all arbitrary detainees.”
An injured resident who was shot with rubber bullets when security forces demolished barricades erected by protesters against the military coup is being attended to by medical staff in Yangon on Tuesday [Stringer/AFP]The video clips from February 28 to March 8 were recorded by members of the public and local media in cities such as Dawei, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Monywa, Myeik, Myitkyina and Yangon.
A video captured on March 2 in Sanchaung Township, Yangon, shows a commander standing over a sniper. The commandant seems to have given him orders to shoot certain protesters directly.
In another clip from March 3, in North Okkalapa Township, also in Yangon, officers are seen leading a man to a large group of security forces.
The man appears to be in the care of the group and offers no visible resistance when an officer next to him suddenly shoots him. The man immediately falls to the ground and remains apparently lifeless on the street for a few seconds before officers go back and pull him away.
Police beat a protester when they arrested him during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on Saturday [Stringer/AFP]Another verified clip dated February 28 shows a military man in Dawei apparently lending his rifle to a police officer stationed next to him. The officer crouches, aims, and shoots before a group of officers standing with them celebrate.
“This incident not only shows the ruthless disregard for human life that makes the sport of shooting live rounds at protesters, but also shows deliberate coordination between security forces,” said Amnestys Mariner.
Machine guns and Uzis
Amnesty also identified security forces armed with a variety of military firearms, including China-made RPD light machine guns, as well as local MA-S sniper rifles, MA-1 semi-automatic rifles, Uzi replica BA-93 and BA-94 submachine guns, and other weapons made in Myanmar.
“These weapons are completely unsuitable for use in police protests,” said Amnesty, citing UN guidelines that security forces should refrain from using firearms unless there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury.
“The weapons used by the Tatmadaw show a deliberate and dangerous escalation of tactics,” noted Mariner.
“We are not satisfied with indiscriminately using less lethal weapons. Each new day shows the obvious order to use semi-automatic rifles, sniper rifles and light machine guns in increasing numbers. Make no mistake, we are in a deadly new phase of crisis. “
Amnesty also revealed that further analysis of photos and videos revealed that the generals had used Yangon Command, Northwest Command, and the military’s 33rd, 77th and 101st Light Infantry Divisions (LID) to be part of the operation “And sometimes their loans to lend guns to police officers. “
The soldiers have been deployed in Yangon, Mandalay and Monywa, where “extreme cases of excessive violence”, including killings, have occurred by security forces in recent days.
Some of the military divisions were charged with committing similar atrocities and “grave human rights violations” in Rakhine, Kachin and the northern Shan states.
Other military units were also involved in “crimes against humanity” in 2017 against the Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state.
“With the death toll rising, the UN Security Council and the international community must go beyond the worrying words and act immediately to stop violations and bring perpetrators to justice,” said Mariner.