UN rights expert condemns military attacks on Myanmar town
© WikiMedia (MgHla/Htin Linn Aye)
UN rights expert condemns military attacks on Myanmar town

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Thomas Andrews Monday said that Myanmar’s military must halt its attacks on the town of Loikaw.

In a message on Twitter, Andrews wrote: “Min Aung Hlaing must immediately halt the air and ground attacks that junta forces have unleashed on Loikaw, Karenni [Kayah] State, lift the blockade of those seeking to escape and allow access for those seeking to provide aid and shelter. I urge UN member states to join this call.”

Loikaw is the capital of the Kayah State in the eastern part of Myanmar bordering Thailand. Loikaw is inhabited by members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) who have opposed the Tatmadaw’s (Myanmar’s armed forces) February 2021 military coup. The military has carried on an offensive against these resistance forces using airstrikes, tanks, and artillery. Clashes in the region have intensified since last week.

Local news outlet Myanmar Now reported that the attacks have killed four civilians and displaced more than 1,000 civilians. It also reported that two battalions of the military fortified with helicopters have marched to Kayah to launch the attack on the Loikaw, Demoso and Shartaw townships.

In a statement, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) said that more than 1,200 people have been forced to flee to Thailand while several hundred remain besieged in the Mine Lone sub-township of Loikaw. The KNPP also called upon the international community to “take immediate action against the junta and provide timely humanitarian assistance and protection for the civilians under attack.”

In December UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths called for an investigation into the killing of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers, in the Kayah violence.

Myanmar has been under the control of the military junta since the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi by a coup d’état on February 1, 2021. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has found that since the coup in February, more thn 1,300 people have been killed and more than 7,000 have been arrested, charged, or sentenced.