UN rights commissioner warns of escalating Myanmar violence
GENEVA, June 11:The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned on Friday of intensifying violence in Myanmar and condemned the army's "outrageous" use of heavy weapons, while urging a wider diplomatic effort to pressure the ruling generals.
Michelle Bachelet said the junta had shown no willingness to implement a five-point consensus it agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to halt violence and start dialogue with its opponents.
Bachelet, whose requests to visit Myanmar in April were denied, said there were credible reports that in Kayah State, civilians were being used as human shields and the army was shelling homes and churches, which had forced more than 108,000 people to flee, with little food, water or sanitation, and humanitarian access was blocked.
"There appear to be no efforts towards de-escalation but rather a build-up of troops in key areas, contrary to the commitments the military made to ASEAN to cease the violence," Bachelet said in a statement.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a Feb. 1 coup ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, unleashing daily protests and strikes that have paralysed the economy, and fighting in borderlands between the armed forces and ethnic minority guerrilla forces and militias.
A junta spokesman did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
The Southeast Asian mediation effort has made little progress, with ASEAN's foreign ministers, China and Japan among several countries this week stressing the importance of the peace plan being implemented. -Reuters