Open Letter to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from U Kyaw Zaw Oo about damage to cultural heritage, fatalities and casualties incurred by intentional and indiscriminate attacks of Myanma Tatmadaw on non-military targets
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Date – 2019 March 17
Subject : intentional and indiscriminate attacks on non-military civilian targets
(1) Some damages have been inflicted, on March 15, to Myae-htay pagoda, an ancient historic religious monument, and to a Cultural Heritage Department gate post near Htoukkanthein Temple. At the same time of the same day, an innocent civilian Daw Khin Khin thein of Kyauk-reik-kay quarter, Mrauk-Oo, was injured by artillery splinters and had to be admitted to Mrauk-Oo hospital. Some residential buildings in town also suffered damages due to indiscriminate firings of weaponry.
(2) Upon my inquiry, it turned out to be no cross-fire or any sort of engagement between armed groups at that time but only patrolling Myanma Tatmadaw soldiers around the town. Arakan Army’s statement following the incident says there was no fighting there and then. Besides, Narinjara’s news article records the event as follows, “local residents said that, after 10 p.m. on March 10, gun shots were heard at many different places around the town, and Tatmadaw and police forces made firings of small and bigger weaponry from five different places.
(3) On another incident in the afternoon of March 16, an innocent pregnant woman Daw Mu-ta-bway was injured with bullet wounds caused by indiscriminate shootings of Myanma Tatmadaw troops and had to be sent to Mrauk-Oo hospital.
(4) On February 20 in Myin-phyu village of Rathedaung township, an 18-year old innocent girl, who happened to be just in a residential building, was killed by the intentional indiscriminate shootings of Tatmadaw forces into the village, an eye-witness told me.
(5) Similar shooting rampages are reported to be being carried out by Myanmarese forces in other places of Rakhine State including Kyauktaw township. It is even said that, in some events, soldiers told the villagers to run ahead only to be shot at from the back, in such a manner of primordial times.
(6) I believe, sir, you have already known that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) stipulates that military operations shall be conducted in great care not to inflict any damage to innocent civilians, their properties and livestock, historical and cultural monuments.
(7) Rules number 38 of Customary IHL reads as follows;
“Rule 38. Attacks Against Cultural Property
Rule 38. Each party to the conflict must respect cultural property:
(A) Special care must be taken in military operations to avoid damage to buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, education or charitable purposes and historic monuments unless they are military objectives.
(B) Property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people must not be the object of attack unless imperatively required by military necessity.”
(8) General public have come to strongly believe that some of your fighting forces are fear-mongering by intentionally and indiscriminately attacking civilian residences, or firing into their near-by places or woods, both in rural and urban areas.
(9) Such undisciplined behaviors of your fighting forces in future can inevitably cost you, sir, into having a reputation of being a commander allowing or directing his charges to do so. Unfortunately, to be recorded as such will be a possible outcome.
(10) Out of my reasoning in such a manner, I would like to write this open letter to you so that you can act upon, at your discretion, sir.
U Kyaw Zaw Oo
Member of Parliament , Rakhine State Hluttaw
Sittwe Constituency Number (2)
2019 March 17, 19:13 hours