Nine Genocides Around The World

This photo taken on September 16, 2022, shows a tourist taking picture of skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime at the Choeung Ek killing fields memorial in Phnom Penh. (Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP)

 

The UN-backed court set up to try Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge leaders over the country’s genocidal 1970s regime issued its last verdict on Thursday, when it upheld the genocide conviction of the regime’s last leader.

Here is a summary of other genocides recognised by the international community and courts or individual states:

Namibia: first genocide

Germany in 2021 acknowledged it had committed genocide in colonial-era Namibia in southwest Africa.

German settlers killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908, a massacre historians called the 20th century’s first genocide.

Armenia

Armenia says Ottoman Turk forces killed up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917, during World War I.

It has long sought international recognition of this as genocide, backed by around 30 countries.

The charge is vehemently rejected by Turkey, which admits nonetheless that up to 500,000 Armenians were killed in fighting, massacres or by starvation during mass deportations from eastern Anatolia.

Cambodia

During a four-year reign of terror by the Maoist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, some two million people died from starvation, mass executions and overwork.

In 2018, a UN-sponsored tribunal in Cambodia convicted the two top surviving leaders of the regime, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, of genocide.


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Nuon Chea has since died and 91-year-old Samphan appealed but on Thursday the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) upheld his conviction.

The ruling will be the last given by the tribunal, winding up a 16-year-process dogged by criticisms for costliness, slowness, and bringing limited solace to survivors.

Rwanda

The Rwandan genocide began in early April 1994, shortly after the ethnic Hutu president was killed when his plane was shot down in an attack blamed by the government on Tutsi rebels.

At least 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, were slaughtered over the following 100 days, according to the United Nations.

The UN set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the Tanzanian city of Arusha. It issued the world’s first genocide conviction in 1998.

Since then, courts in the United States, Canada and several European countries have also convicted Rwandan fugitives over their role in the bloodshed.

Srebrenica

The 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was recognised as a genocide by the International Court of Justice, the UN’s top legal body, in 2007.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic were handed life sentences for genocide by a special UN court.

Sudan

In 2021, Sudan said it planned to hand over to the International Criminal Court ex-president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for genocide over fighting that erupted in the western Darfur region in 2003.

The UN estimates that the Darfur conflict left 300,000 people dead.

Yazidis in Iraq

Islamic State jihadists in 2014 carried out a massacre of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking community in northwestern Iraq.

In 2021, a German court convicted an Iraqi jihadist of “genocide”.

The parliaments of several Western states have also termed the crimes “genocide”.

Rohingya in Myanmar

Around one million members of Myanmar’s mostly Muslim Rohingya community fled the Buddhist-majority country for Bangladesh since August 2017, amid reports of rape, murder and arson.

Myanmar has been accused of “genocide” by The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The International Criminal Court has also opened a probe, and in March the US declared the violence against the Rohingya constituted genocide.

Uyghurs in China

Lawmakers in several western countries have denounced a “genocide” by China of the Uyghur minority in western Xinjiang province.

Rights groups say at least one million people from mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang.

A UN report earlier this month said the abuses could constitute “crimes against humanity” but avoided the term genocide.

China has denied any wrondoing, saying it is running vocational training centres to counter extremism.

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Sentenced To Three Years For Electoral Fraud – Source

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2018, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the Leaders Plenary Session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit in Sydney. AFP.

 

A Myanmar junta court sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to three years in jail for electoral fraud during 2020 polls her party won in a landslide, a source with knowledge of the case said Friday.

Suu Kyi was “sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labour”, the source said, adding that the Nobel laureate, 77, appeared to be in good health.

Detained since the putsch last year, Suu Kyi has already been convicted of corruption and a clutch of other charges by a closed junta court and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

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The military alleged widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 election, won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, although international observers said the poll was largely free and fair.

The military has since cancelled the result and said it uncovered more than 11 million instances of voter fraud.

In a speech broadcast last month, Min Aung Hlaing did not mention a date for fresh polls but said they could only be held when the country was “peaceful and stable”.

More than 2,200 people have been killed and over 15,000 arrested in the military’s crackdown on dissent since it seized power, according to a local monitoring group.

AFP

Myanmar Junta Court Jails Suu Kyi For Six Years Over Corruption

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2018, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the Leaders Plenary Session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit in Sydney. Mark Metcalfe / POOL / AFP

 

A Myanmar junta court jailed Aung San Suu Kyi for six years for corruption on Monday, a source close to the case said, taking the ousted leader’s prison time to 17 years.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been detained since the generals toppled her government in a coup on February 1 last year, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief period of democracy.

She has since been hit with a series of charges, including violating the official secrets act, corruption, and electoral fraud. She faces decades in jail if convicted on all counts.

Suu Kyi was sentenced to “six years imprisonment under four anti-corruption charges”, said the source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Each charge carried a maximum of 15 years in jail. Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years for each, but three of the sentences would be served concurrently, the source said.

She appeared in good health and did not make any statement following the sentencing, they added.

A junta spokesman could not be reached for comment.

READ ALSO: Executed Myanmar Prisoners Deserved ‘Many Death Sentences’- Junta

The Nobel laureate had already been sentenced to 11 years in jail for corruption, incitement against the military, breaching Covid-19 rules, and breaking a telecommunications law.

Journalists have been barred from attending the court hearings and Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been banned from speaking to the media.

The United States slammed the latest sentencing as an “affront to justice and the rule of law”.

“We call on the regime to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and all those unjustly detained, including other democratically elected officials,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The coup sparked widespread protests and unrest, and renewed fighting with established ethnic rebel groups.

Dozens of “People’s Defence Forces” have also sprung up to fight the junta and have surprised the military with their effectiveness, analysts say.

According to a local monitoring group, the crackdown has left more than 2,000 civilians dead and seen some 17,000 arrested.

 ‘Erase The Past’ 

Suu Kyi has been the face of Myanmar’s democratic hopes for more than 30 years, but her earlier 11-year sentence already meant she was likely to miss elections the junta says it plans to hold by next year.

“Immune from domestic and international outrage, the punishment trials against Suu Kyi and her supporters are designed to erase the democratic past,” independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson told AFP.

“Their intent is clear to everyone it seems, everyone but the international community.”

In June, Suu Kyi was transferred from house arrest to a prison in the capital Naypyidaw, where her trial continues in a courthouse inside the prison compound.

She remains confined to the jail, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with lawyers.

Many of her political allies have also been arrested since the coup, with one chief minister sentenced to 75 years in jail.

Last month, the junta stoked renewed international condemnation when it executed Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, for offences under anti-terrorism laws.

Suu Kyi learned of the execution at a pre-trial hearing, a source with knowledge of the matter said, but has yet to speak on the matter.

The junta says it seized power following massive fraud during 2020 elections in which the NLD trounced a military-backed party and which international observers said were largely free and fair.

AFP

Executed Myanmar Prisoners Deserved ‘Many Death Sentences’- Junta

In this file photo taken on June 23, 2021 Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s armed forces Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attends the IX Moscow conference on International Security in Moscow. Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP

 

Myanmar’s junta lashed out Tuesday against the international condemnation of the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades, saying the four executed prisoners — two of them prominent democracy fighters — “deserved many death sentences”.

The executions announced Monday sparked condemnation from around the globe, heightened fears that more will follow and prompted calls for sterner international measures against the already-isolated junta.

But the military authorities were defiant, with spokesman Zaw Min Tun insisting the men were “given the right to defend themselves according to court procedure”.

“If we compare their sentence with other death penalty cases, they have committed crimes for which they should have been given death sentences many times,” he said at a regular press briefing in the capital Naypyidaw.

“They harmed many innocent people. There were many big losses which could not be replaced.”

The prisoners, who included a former lawmaker from ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, had been allowed to meet family members through video conferencing, he said, without providing details.

The junta had previously rejected criticism from the UN and western countries over the death sentences.

‘Extremely troubled’

Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) was arrested in November and accused of orchestrating several attacks on regime forces, including a gun attack on a commuter train in Yangon that killed five policemen.

He was sentenced to death in January for offences under anti-terrorism laws.

Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu — better known as “Jimmy” — received the same sentence from the military tribunal.

The junta had previously issued an arrest warrant, alleging he had incited unrest with his social media posts.

It would be up to prison authorities to decide whether their families would be permitted to retrieve their bodies, Zaw Min Tun said.

The two other men were sentenced to death for killing a woman they alleged was an informer for the junta in Yangon.

The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, but Myanmar had not carried out an execution in decades.

After a chorus of international condemnation on Monday, including from the UN, the United States and European countries, there was fresh criticism of the junta on Tuesday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, which has led diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, said it was “extremely troubled and deeply saddened” by the executions.

In a statement issued by the current chair of Cambodia, it accused the junta of a “gross lack of will” to engage with ASEAN’s efforts to facilitate dialogue between the military and its opponents.

In Bangkok, hundreds of people staged a noisy protest outside the Myanmar embassy.

Some held photos of Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zeya Thaw alongside Aung San Suu Kyi as they chanted “We want democracy.”

And Malaysia’s foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah slammed the executions calling it a “crime against humanity”.

He called for a review of the so-called five-point consensus agreed by Southeast Asian leaders last year aimed at defusing the political crisis in Myanmar following a coup.

A spokesperson from the foreign affairs ministry of Thailand — another ASEAN member — said it regretted “the loss of four lives which aggravates the vexing problems of Myanmar”.

-AFP

Myanmar Junta Executes Two Leading Pro-Democracy Figures

This combination of file photos shows undated handout photographs released by Myanmar’s Military Information Team on January 21, 2022, of democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as ‘Jimmy’, who rose to prominence during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising and was arrested in an overnight raid in October 2021 (L) and former lawmaker Maung Kyaw (Photo by Handout / Myanmar’s Military Information Team / AFP)

 

Myanmar’s junta has executed four prisoners including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party and a prominent activist, state media said Monday, in the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades.

The executions sparked widespread condemnation, heightened fears that more death sentences will be carried out and prompted calls for the international community to take sterner measures against the already isolated junta.

The four were executed for leading “brutal and inhumane terror acts”, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said, without saying when or how the men were killed.

The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, but Myanmar had not carried out an execution for decades.

Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) who was arrested in November, was sentenced to death in January for offences under anti-terrorism laws.

Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu — better known as “Jimmy” — received the same sentence from the military tribunal.

Family members of the two men gathered outside Yangon’s Insein prison after news of the executions was published, in the hope of retrieving their bodies, local media reported.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy — which won a landslide in the 2020 elections before being ousted by the military months later — said it was “devastated” by the news.

A junta spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Responding to media enquiries on reports of the executions, a junta statement said “it is as stated in the state media”.

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews said he was “outraged and devastated by the news”.

“These depraved acts must be a turning point… what more must the junta do before the international community is willing to take strong action?”

The two other men were sentenced to death for killing a woman they alleged was an informer for the junta in Yangon.

Amnesty International said the executions were an “atrocious escalation in state repression” and warned around 100 others were currently on death row after being convicted in junta courts.

The United States condemned the “execution of pro-democracy leaders and elected officials for exercising their fundamental freedoms”.

“We join the people of Myanmar in mourning,” its embassy in Yangon said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Japan’s government — a major provider of economic assistance to Myanmar — said in a statement it “seriously deplores” the executions.

Diplomatic condemnation

UN rights workers have said that under the junta’s martial law provisions, the death penalty could be given for 23 “vague and broadly defined offences” — which in practice could include any criticism of the military.

Myanmar expert Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Twitter that the executions were “an outrageous act. And one that will create political shockwaves, now and for a long time to come.”

Phyo Zeya Thaw had been accused of orchestrating several attacks on regime forces, including a gun attack on a commuter train in Yangon in August that killed five policemen.

A hip-hop pioneer whose subversive rhymes irked the previous junta, he was jailed in 2008 for membership of an illegal organisation and possession of foreign currency.

He was elected to parliament representing Suu Kyi’s NLD in the 2015 elections, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.

Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to prominence during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising against the country’s previous military regime, was arrested in an overnight raid in October.

The country’s military alleged voter fraud during the 2020 elections, as justification for its coup on February 1 last year.

Suu Kyi has been detained since then and faces a slew of charges in a junta court that could see her face a prison sentence of more than 150 years.

The Nobel laureate, 77, learned of the executions at her latest hearing on Monday, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

She did not comment on the news but “looked sad” the source said

-AFP

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Handed Five Years In Jail Over Corruption – Spokesman

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2018, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the Leaders Plenary Session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit in Sydney.  Mark Metcalfe / POOL / AFP

 

A Myanmar junta court on Wednesday sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in jail for corruption, part of a barrage of criminal cases that could see the deposed civilian leader jailed for decades.

Since a military coup ousted her government in February last year, plunging Myanmar into upheaval, Suu Kyi has been in military custody.

In the latest case, the Nobel laureate was accused of accepting a bribe of $600,000 cash and gold bars.

After two days of delays, the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw handed down its verdict and sentence at 9:30 am (0300 GMT) on Wednesday.

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“Regarding taking gold and dollars from U Phyo Min Thein, the court sentenced her five years’ imprisonment,” junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told AFP.

“She will be under house arrest. I do not know whether she asked for appeal. They are working according to the legal way. As far as I know, she’s in good health.”

She still faces a raft of other criminal charges, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud, and could be jailed for more than 100 years if convicted on all counts.

The 76-year-old had already been sentenced to six years in jail for incitement against the military, breaching Covid-19 rules, and breaking a telecommunications law — although she will remain under house arrest while she fights other charges.

Journalists have been barred from attending the court hearings and Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been banned from speaking to the media.

Last month Suu Kyi was forced to miss three days of hearings after being quarantined because of a Covid-19 case among her staff.

Under a previous junta regime, Suu Kyi spent long spells under house arrest in her family mansion in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

Today, she is confined to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.

Turmoil, Investor Flight

The coup sparked widespread protests and unrest which the military sought to crush by force.

According to a local monitoring group, the crackdown has left more than 1,700 civilians dead and seen some 13,000 arrested.

Suu Kyi has been the face of Myanmar’s democratic hopes for more than 30 years, but her earlier six-year sentence already meant she is likely to miss elections the junta has said it plans to hold by next year.

Independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson said the junta was using the criminal cases to make Suu Kyi “politically irrelevant”.

“This is just another squalid step in solidifying the coup,” he told AFP.

“This is politically motivated pure and simple.”

Many of her political allies have also been arrested since the coup, with one chief minister sentenced to 75 years in jail, while many others have been forced into hiding.

A tranche of ousted lawmakers from her National League for Democracy (NLD) formed a parallel “National Unity Government” (NUG) in a bid to undermine the junta’s legitimacy.

However, the NUG holds no territory and has not been recognised by any foreign government.

Numerous “People’s Defence Force” (PDF) civilian militias have sprung up around the country to take the fight to the junta.

Analysts say Myanmar’s heavily armed, well-trained army has been surprised by the effectiveness of the PDFs and in some areas struggled to contain them.

Last week junta supremo Min Aung Hlaing called for peace talks with Myanmar’s long-established ethnic rebel groups — which control large areas of territory and have been battling the military for decades.

The turmoil that has engulfed Myanmar in the wake of the coup has spooked foreign investors who flocked to the country after the dawn of democracy around 2011.

Energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron, British American Tobacco and Japanese brewer Kirin have all announced plans to pull out.

AFP

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi To Face New Trial For Electoral Fraud

(FILES) In this file photo of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi 
Mark Metcalfe / POOL / AFP

 

 

Myanmar’s junta has charged Aung San Suu Kyi with influencing election officials during 2020 polls, a source said on Monday, a year after it staged a coup alleging massive voter fraud.

Suu Kyi, 76, has been detained since the February 1 coup last year that triggered mass protests and a bloody crackdown on dissent with nearly 1,500 civilians killed, according to a local monitoring group.

The Nobel laureate is facing a raft of charges — including violating the country’s official secrets laws — and if convicted of all of them could face sentences tallying more than 100 years in prison.

She will face a further trial on charges of influencing the country’s election commission during the 2020 polls that saw her party defeat a military-aligned rival, a source with knowledge of the case said.

The case will be wrapped up within six months, the source added.

Former president and stalwart of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party Win Myint will face the same charge, the source said.

Several senior members of the national electoral commission have also been arrested since the coup, accused of masterminding the NLD’s landslide victory.

The junta cancelled the results of the 2020 election in July last year, saying it had found some 11.3 million instances of fraud.

Independent monitors said the polls were largely free and fair.

The junta has promised to hold another election by August 2023 if the country — currently riven by fighting between the military and anti-coup fighters — is restored.

Ahead of the Tuesday anniversary of the putsch, the junta has warned that noisy protests or sharing “propaganda” against the military could be charged with high treason or under the anti-terrorism law.

Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to six years in jail for illegally importing and owning walkie-talkies, incitement against the military, and breaking COVID-19 rules.

UN Urges World To Turn The Screw On Myanmar Junta

 

The United Nations urged the world on Friday to ramp up the pressure on Myanmar’s junta to cease violence against the country’s own people and quickly restore civilian rule.

One year on since the military seized power, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the country’s people had paid a high price in terms of lives and freedoms lost.

Bachelet said that while there had been near-universal condemnation of the coup and the ensuing violence, she branded the international response as “ineffectual”, saying it “lacks a sense of urgency commensurate to the magnitude of the crisis”.

“It is time for an urgent, renewed effort to restore human rights and democracy in Myanmar and ensure that perpetrators of systemic human rights violations and abuses are held to account,” she said.

The former Chilean president said the UN Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had not done enough to convince the junta to facilitate humanitarian access.

Bachelet said she had spoken with civil liberties defenders in Myanmar who were pleading with the international community not to abandon them.

“I urge governments — in the region and beyond — as well as businesses, to listen to this plea,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Deaths, Detentions and Impunity

Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1 last year, ousting the civilian government and arresting its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta has waged a bloody crackdown on dissent.

The UN Human Rights Office said that since the coup, at least 1,500 people had been killed by the military in a brutal effort to crush dissent, while thousands more would have been killed in the wider armed conflict and violence.

At least 11,787 people have been arbitrarily detained for voicing their opposition to the military, the office said, of whom 8,792 remain in custody.

At least 290 have died in detention, many likely due to the use of torture, it added.

Bachelet said the current crisis was built upon the impunity with which the military leadership waged a campaign of violence against the Rohingya minority four years ago.

“As long as impunity prevails, stability in Myanmar will be a fiction. Accountability of the military remains crucial to any solution going forward — the people overwhelmingly demand this,” she said.

Bachelet’s office is due to publish a report in March detailing the human rights situation in Myanmar since the coup.

Myanmar Junta Slams Suu Kyi With Five New Charges Over Helicopter Purchase

(FILES) Myanmar junta court on November 30, 2021, postponed giving a verdict in the incitement trial of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a source close to the case told AFP.
Mark Metcalfe / POOL / AFP

 

A Myanmar junta court has hit ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi with five new corruption charges related to the alleged hiring and purchase of a helicopter, sources close to the case told AFP.

The Nobel laureate, 76, has been detained since the February 1 coup last year which triggered mass protests and a bloody crackdown on dissent with more than 1,400 civilians killed, according to a local monitoring group.

Suu Kyi is facing a raft of criminal and corruption charges — including violating the country’s official secrets laws — and if convicted of all of them could face sentences tallying more than 100 years of prison.

The charges were levelled against Suu Kyi on Friday afternoon and related to the hire, maintenance and purchase of a helicopter, the sources said.

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Former Myanmar President U Win Myint was also hit with the same charges, they said.

In December, state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar said the pair would be prosecuted for not following financial regulations and causing a loss to the state over the rent and purchase of a helicopter for former government minister Win Myat Aye.

He rented the helicopter from 2019 to 2021 and used it for only 84.95 hours out of 720 rental hours, the paper said.

He is now in hiding, along with other former lawmakers.

A Myanmar court on Monday convicted Suu Kyi of three criminal charges related to illegally importing and owning walkie-talkies and breaking coronavirus rules.

She was sentenced to four years in prison.

In December, she also received a two-year jail sentence for incitement against the military and for other coronavirus violations.

The six years of jail time will likely prevent Suu Kyi from participating in fresh elections that the military junta has vowed to hold by August 2023.

Suu Kyi is expected to remain under house arrest as the other legal cases progress.

Journalists have been barred from attending the special court hearings in Naypyidaw and her lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.

The daughter of an independence hero, Suu Kyi spent nearly two decades enduring long stretches of house arrest under the former military regime.

Her time in office was marred by her government’s handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis in which hundreds of thousands escaped to Bangladesh in 2017 as they faced rapes, arson and extrajudicial killings at the hands of the Myanmar military.

Before the coup, Suu Kyi was on the cusp of beginning another five-year term as the country’s de facto leader after the National League for Democracy won a landslide in November 2020 polls.

AFP sought comment from the Myanmar junta — which calls itself the State Administration Council.

EU Backs International Arms Embargo After Myanmar Massacre

A logo for the European Union

 

The European Union called Thursday for an international arms embargo on Myanmar’s junta and for toughening its own sanctions following last week’s massacre of more than 30 people.

The killings took place on Christmas Eve in eastern Kayah state, where pro-democracy rebels have been fighting the military, which took over the government from the democratically elected administration in February.

The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “the appalling act of violence perpetrated by the military regime” on civilians and humanitarian workers underlined the “urgent need” to hold the junta accountable.

“In view of the escalating violence in Myanmar, increased international preventive action is required, including an arms embargo,” Borrell said in a statement.

“The EU also stands ready to impose further sanctions against the military regime,” he added.

His call for an international arms embargo echoed one Tuesday from the United States.

Western nations have long restricted weapons to Myanmar’s military, which even during the pre-coup democratic transition faced allegations of crimes against humanity for a bloody campaign against the Rohingya minority.

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The UN General Assembly voted in June to prevent arms shipments into Myanmar, but the measure was symbolic as it was not taken up by the more powerful Security Council.

China and Russia, which hold veto power on the Security Council — as well as neighbouring India — are the major arms providers to Myanmar.

Myanmar has been in chaos since a military coup in February, with more than 1,300 people killed in a crackdown by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.

Since the coup, the EU has imposed targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military, its leaders and entities.

The bloc also halted EU financial assistance to the government and froze assistance that could be seen as legitimising the military regime.

Borrell said “the targeting of civilians and humanitarian actors is unacceptable and a blatant violation of human rights and international law, including humanitarian law.”

He called for “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to” Myanmar’s people while demanding full protection for humanitarian workers and medical personnel.

International charity Save the Children said two of its employees were among those killed in the massacre.

The EU said it will continue providing humanitarian aid to the people.

Myanmar Court Postpones Verdict In Suu Kyi’s Trial

(File photo) Aung San Suu Kyi attends the Leaders Plenary Session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit in Sydney.  Mark Metcalfe / POOL / AFP

 

A Myanmar junta court on Monday again postponed giving its verdict in Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial for illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, a source with knowledge of the case said.

The Nobel laureate has been detained since the generals staged a coup against her government on February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief period of democracy.

Nationwide protests against the putsch have been met with a bloody crackdown, with more than 1,300 people killed and over 11,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

Suu Kyi, 76, was due to hear the verdict on charges she illegally imported and possessed walkie-talkies — the latest in a catalogue of judgements in a junta court that could see her jailed for the rest of her life.

But the judge adjourned the verdict until January 10, a source with knowledge of the case told AFP, without giving details.

Earlier this month, Suu Kyi was jailed for four years for incitement against the military and breaching Covid restrictions, in a ruling that was widely condemned by the international community.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing later commuted the term to two years and said she would serve her sentence under house arrest in the capital Naypyidaw.

Suu Kyi had faced three years in prison if found guilty on the walkie-talkie charges, which stem from the early hours of the coup when soldiers and police raided her house and allegedly found her in possession of the contraband equipment.

Suu Kyi is also charged with multiple counts of corruption — each of which is punishable by 15 years in jail — and violating the official secrets act.

Journalists have been barred from attending the special court hearings in Naypyidaw and her lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.

AFP

One Dead, At Least 70 Missing After Landslide At Myanmar Jade Mine

People watch as rescuers prepare to search for missing miners following a landslide at a jade mine in Hpakant, at Kachin state on December 22, 2021, where over 70 people are missing. STR / AFP

 

A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar Wednesday killed at least one person, injured 25, and left dozens missing, a member of the rescue team told AFP.

Scores die each year working in the country’s lucrative but poorly regulated jade trade, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in neighbouring China.

The disaster struck at a mine in Hpakant township close to the Chinese border in Kachin state, where billions of dollars of the precious mineral is believed to be scoured from bare hillsides each year.

“About 70-100 people are missing” following the landslide that struck around 4:00 am (2130 GMT Tuesday), said rescue team member Ko Nyi.

“We’ve sent 25 injured people to hospital while we’ve found one dead.”

Hundreds of diggers had returned to Hpakant during the rainy season to prospect in the treacherous open-cast mines, according to a local activist, despite a junta ban on digging until March 2022.

“They mine at night and in the morning they tip out the earth and rock,” said the activist, adding the added weight had caused the land to slip down into the lake.

Ko Nyi of the rescue team also said increased pressure from the weight of dumped soil and rock had pushed the ground downhill into the lake.

Around 200 rescuers were working to recover bodies, with some using boats to search for the dead in a nearby lake, he added.

Access to the mines in the remote north of the country is heavily restricted by the military and internet access is patchy.

Local outlet Kachin News Group said 20 miners had been killed in the landslide.

Myanmar’s fire services said personnel from Hpakant and the nearby town of Lone Khin were involved in the rescue effort but gave no figures of dead or missing.

Deadly Industry

Jade and other abundant natural resources in northern Myanmar including timber, gold and amber have helped finance both sides of a decades-long civil war between ethnic Kachin insurgents and the military.

Civilians are frequently trapped in the middle of the fight for control of the mines and their lucrative revenues, with a rampant drug and arms trade further curdling the conflict.

Last year heavy rainfall triggered a massive landslide in Hpakant that entombed nearly 300 miners.

Watchdog Global Witness estimated that the industry was worth some $31 billion in 2014.

But corruption means very little reaches state coffers.

A February military coup also effectively extinguished any chance of reforms to the dangerous and unregulated industry initiated by ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, watchdog Global Witness said in a report this year.

The coup has also sparked fighting in Kachin state between local insurgents and the Myanmar military, Global Witness added.

In May, the military launched airstrikes against the insurgents, who later told AFP they had downed a helicopter gunship during fierce clashes in the country’s far north.