The UN rights chief said on Friday that violence was escalating across Myanmar, warning that the country had plunged into a “human rights catastrophe” since the February 1 coup.
Pointing to reported military build-up in several regions of the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for a halt to the already spiralling violence to avert even greater loss of life and a deepening humanitarian emergency.
“In just over four months, Myanmar has gone from being a fragile democracy to a human rights catastrophe,” she said in a statement, adding that the military leadership was “singularly responsible” for the crisis.
The country has been in turmoil since the generals ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
The UN rights office pointed on Friday to credible reports showing that at least 860 civilians had been killed in a brutal crackdown by security forces on near-daily protests against the coup.
Fighting has flared in several communities -- especially in townships that have seen a high death toll at the hands of police -- and some locals have formed “defence forces”.
Ms. Bachelet pointed to intensifying violence in many parts of Myanmar, including Kayah State, Chin State and Kachin State.
“State security forces have continued to use heavy weaponry, including air strikes, against armed groups and against civilians and civilian objects, including Christian churches,” she said.
She pointed to “credible reports” that security forces have used civilians as human shields, shelled civilian homes and churches, and blocked humanitarian access, including by attacking aid workers.