At least 157 civilians killed by landmines since Myanmar’s coup
Myanmar and Russia are the only two countries to use the bombs systematically. A report confirms the atrocities committed by Myanmar’s junta with anti-personnel mines placed around people killed during an air raid. The anti-junta resistance controls more than half of the country.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Twenty-five years after the adoption of the Treaty banning anti-personnel mines, only two countries still use them in a systematic way: Myanmar and Russia. For Myanmar’s Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), this is nothing new; they have used them since the 1990s.
According to the Landmine Monitor Report released last week by several humanitarian organisations, part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the use of mines in Myanmar increased following the February 2021 coup that ousted the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy.
By taking over and cracking down at anti-junta protesters, the military plunged the country into a brutal civil war. A resistance emerged, composed of several militias that now reportedly control 52 per cent of the country’s territory.
For the exiled National Unity Government (NUG), this has come at a very high price, its armed wing, the People's Defence Forces, has lost at least 1,500 fighters with 700 wounded in August alone, many losing a limb or two to landmines.
Junta forces have killed at least 2,530 civilians. According to the Landmine Monitor Report, between February 2021 and September of this year, 157 civilians were killed and 395 wounded by mines and explosive remnants of war. About a third of them are children.
The report confirms what local sources have repeatedly stated: junta soldiers place mines around villages, along paths, near telecommunications infrastructure, pipelines, churches, farms and fields to prevent resistance forces from having access to resources.
Landmines have also been placed along the border with Bangladesh, where people collect firewood or graze livestock. In at least one case, the military planted landmines around the bodies of people killed in an airstrike in the central Sagaing region.
Junta troops have also used civilians as human shields by forcing them to walk in front of soldiers to set off mines.
At least 11 countries manufacture landmines, most notably India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Myanmar itself.
In the past week alone, junta soldiers have killed 15 civilians in the Sagaing region setting fire to hundreds of homes in a dozen villages, causing about 10,000 people to flee.