The killing of at least 65 protesters in Myanmar’s biggest city of Yangon earlier this year was "planned" and premeditated, says Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar's security forces of deliberately encircling and using lethal force against crowds in Yangon demonstrating against the military coup.
The killing of at least 65 protesters in Myanmar’s biggest city on March 14 this year was planned and premeditated, the rights watchdog said in a report released on Thursday.
“Soldiers and police armed with military assault rifles fired on trapped protesters and on those trying to assist the wounded, killing at least 65 protesters and bystanders,” said the New York-based organisation.
HRW said it based its findings on interviews with six witnesses and analyses of 13 videos and 31 photographs of the violence posted on social media.
“We can prove, through testimonies and digital forensics, that in videos posted by security forces... that this was planned and coordinated,” HRW Myanmar researcher Manny Maung said.
Maung told The Associated Press the security forces’ actions “constitute the crime against humanity of murder.”
Punishment for perpetrators
The group called for perpetrators to be brought to justice, saying no action is known to have been taken against any members of the security forces.
“Ultimately, the responsibility lies in the command structure, and whoever was responsible for ordering the crackdown and implementing the crackdown is responsible,” Maung said.
In her opinion, that would be the Yangon regional military commander and the city’s police chief.
“It’s necessary to make sure that such figures are made aware that they can be tried and held to account at a later time,” she said.
HRW urged the international community to “respond to ongoing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Myanmar by supplementing, strengthening, and coordinating international sanctions against the junta leadership and military.”
The protesters in the town of Hlaing Tharyar were demonstrating against the military’s February 1 seizure of power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
In the months immediately following the army’s takeover, largely peaceful demonstrations nationwide were met with increasingly brutal suppression by the security forces.
The military-installed government, which imposed martial law in the area after the violence, has described the protesters as “rioters” who burned down garment factories and blocked firefighters.