Press briefing notesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Myanmar: Alarm at renewed fighting
17 November 2023
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Jeremy Laurence
Our Office is closely monitoring developments in Myanmar where anti-military armed groups and their allies have made significant advances and several hundred soldiers have reportedly chosen to lay down their weapons.
It is essential that all those captured are treated humanely. Reprisals are absolutely forbidden – individual soldiers are not collectively responsible for crimes and human rights violations that have been committed by the military.
Amidst rapidly changing circumstances on the ground, it is imperative that all parties strictly respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, particularly to protect civilians. Commanders must make this clear to armed personnel under their direction and control.
In the fighting so far, it is reported that around 70 civilians and those hors de combat have been killed and over 90 wounded, with more than 200,000 internally displaced since 27 October.
We are particularly alarmed by renewed fighting between the military and Arakan Army in Rakhine State after an informal 12-month ceasefire, which poses grave risks to both the ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya communities.
We are concerned, given past patterns, that as the military loses ground on multiple fronts, its response risks unleashing an even greater force, through indiscriminate and disproportionate air strikes and artillery barrages. Over the past two years, we have documented the severe impact of such tactics on the civilian population.
Our Office calls afresh on Member States, especially those with influence upon the parties, to intervene decisively with intensified efforts to end this crisis and protect the civilian population, and to renew pressure for the peaceful transfer of power to a representative, civilian government.
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