Burma: international outcry after a deadly strike by the ruling junta on a village

The military junta in Burma has confirmed that it carried out an air strike which, on Tuesday, April 11, left dozens dead in a village in the center of the country

Burma: international outcry after a deadly strike by the ruling junta on a village

The military junta in Burma has confirmed that it carried out an air strike which, on Tuesday, April 11, left dozens dead in a village in the center of the country. The attack was immediately condemned by the international community.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said he was "horrified" and the world body called for those responsible to be brought to justice. "It appears that children dancing, along with other civilians, at the opening ceremony of a center in Pazi Gyi village, Kanbalu district, are among the victims," ​​Türk said. in a press release.

At least 50 dead and dozens injured have been reported by BBC Burmese, The Irrawaddy and Radio Free Asia, but the death toll could rise to 100 according to a rescue worker from an armed rebel group contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), who mentioned the presence of women and children among the victims. Witnesses contacted by AFP also reported around a hundred deaths. Videos circulating on social networks (the authenticity of which AFP could not confirm) show bodies scattered in houses in ruins.

“There was an opening ceremony of a People’s Defense Force (PDF) office… [Tuesday] morning around 8 a.m. in Pazi Gyi village. We attacked this place,” confirmed junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun. He said some of the dead were uniformed anti-coup fighters and he acknowledged "there may be people wearing civilian clothes," but did not cite a death toll. “According to the information we have obtained on the ground, the people killed are not just because of our attack. There were mines planted by the PDF around this area,” he said.

" Contempt "

Washington said it was "deeply concerned" by the attacks, which "underscore once again the regime's disregard for human life and its responsibility for the terrible political and humanitarian crisis that has plagued Burma since the February coup." 2021,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in a statement.

"The United States calls on the Burmese regime to end this horrific violence, allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and respect the true democratic and inclusive aspirations of the Burmese people," he added.

Mr. Türk accused the Burmese military of having once again ignored "clear legal obligations (...) to protect civilians in the conduct of hostilities" and of showing a "blatant disregard for the rules international law relating thereto".

In a tweet, the German Foreign Ministry also condemned on Tuesday evening "the Burmese army airstrike which killed dozens of civilians, including children". "We demand that the regime cease all violence against the population immediately," the text added.

The National Unity Government (NUG), a body founded by former deputies of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, many of them in exile, and which brings together an opposition party to the junta, denounced a "new example of the indiscriminate use of extreme force against innocent civilians".

A country torn apart since the February 1, 2022 coup

The Sagaing region, near Mandalay, the country's second largest city, is fiercely resisting the junta, and intense fighting has been going on there for months.

The UN High Commissioner said there are "reasonable grounds to believe that the military and its affiliated militias are responsible for a wide range of human rights violations and abuses since the February 1, 2021".

Burma has been torn apart by a violent conflict between the junta and its opponents since the February 1, 2021 coup. The Burmese army is banking on its air advantage, thanks to its Russian and Chinese-made jets, to compensate for its difficulties on the ground, facing rebel groups that control parts of the country.

The United Nations counted more than 300 airstrikes in 2022, as well as several incidents involving civilian casualties.