16 May 2006
The following statement was issued today by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall; the Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari; the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler; and the Special Rapporteur on the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt:
We call on the Government of Myanmar to take urgent measures to end the counter-insurgency military operations targeting civilians in Northern Karen and Eastern Pegu areas, which have led to the forcible eviction and displacement of thousands of ethnic minority villagers. We are deeply concerned about the widespread violence that has continued to spiral for the last six months in the Thandaung and Papun townships of Karen state as well as Kyaukgyi and Shwegyin townships of Pegu Division.
The military allegedly acted with excessive use of force and fire arms. Homes were demolished and according to reports, residents have been offered neither alternative housing nor any form of compensation. Other reports from various sources corroborate very serious allegations of unlawful killings, torture, rape and forced labor. The state of destitution in which many of the displaced persons are forced to live is alarming. These difficulties are mainly linked to obstructed access to food, education, housing and health services. The continued insecurity both in the areas of origin as well as in those, to which the displaced persons have fled, is an additional source of concern.
We deplore the violence against unarmed civilians by the Myanmar military and call for action to ensure no further excessive use of force is employed against persons belonging to any community in Myanmar. We remind the Government and non-State armed groups of their obligation to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict and that the current government strategy of targeting civilians in the course of its military operations represents a wilful abrogation of its responsibility under international humanitarian and human rights law.