The body representing the ousted civilian government says it has gathered 180,000 pieces of evidence showing rights abuses by the Tatmadaw including torture and extrajudicial killings.
A lawyer for the Committee for Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw – a group of ousted MPs largely from the National League for Democracy – met United Nations investigators today to discuss alleged atrocities by the military that the group had documented.
“CRPH has received 180,000 items of evidence. This evidence shows widescale abuses of human rights by the military,” said a statement by the CRPH, which claims the right to speak for the country instead of the military regime.
These abuses more than 540 extrajudicial executions, 10 deaths of prisoners in custody, torture, illegal detentions and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protests, the statement said.
A spokeswoman for the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar confirmed that Robert Volterra, a lawyer for the CRPH, met with the body’s head, Nicholas Koumjian, but refused to give further details.
Ahead of the meeting with the UN investigators, the CRPH said it was “intended to discuss the modalities of dialogue and cooperation between Myanmar (acting through CRPH) and the IIMM in relation to the atrocities committed by the military”.
Demonstrations calling for democracy, federal reform and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders from detention have rocked Myanmar almost daily since the February 1 coup, which the military has justified by making unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the November election won in a landslide by the NLD.
Civil servants, doctors and other key workers have downed tools as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement aimed at preventing the military from running the country.
In response, the security forces have used rubber bullets and live rounds to break up rallies and detained thousands of activists, some in night raids.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group, says 581 civilians have been killed in the crackdown and more than 2,700 arrested.
Nearly 50 of the dead were children.
With many protest supporters and NLD activists now in hiding to escape arrest, the junta is increasingly taking their family members hostage, according to AAPP.
Military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing insisted his regime had dealt with the protests “in a democratic way” in a speech reported today by the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
He accused the protest movement of wanting to “destroy the country” and said only 248 protesters had been killed, along with 16 police officers.
International powers have voiced anger and dismay at the military’s brutal approach, and imposed sanctions on key officials.
But while the UN Security Council has condemned civilian deaths, it has stopped short of considering sanctions.
Permanent Security Council members China and Russia have come out against sanctions, arguing they risked making the situation worse.
And so far, the diplomatic pressure appears to be having little effect as the deaths and detentions continue every day.
At least three people were killed today in the northern town of Kalay in Sagaing Region when security forces broke up a protest camp, an NLD lawmaker and an activist told AFP.
The activist from Women for Justice in Kalay accused the military of using at least one rocket-propelled grenade on the protesters, and said the true death toll could be higher.
Rights group Amnesty International last month reported that the junta was using battlefield weapons on unarmed protestors and carrying out premeditated killings orchestrated by their commanding officers.
The growing bloodshed has prompted warnings that Myanmar could slide into broader civil war, particularly after the 10 ethnic armed groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement came out in support of the protest movement.
As well as breaking up protests and making arrests, the security forces have also sought to shut off news of the crisis.
Internet access has been throttled, and independent media outlets raided and shut down.
In response, some activists have started a daily two-page newsletter called “Voice of Spring”, rounding up independent media reports and publishing on Twitter.