Myanmar’s security forces planted internationally banned antipersonnel landmines along its border with Bangladesh which have seriously injured at least three civilians and reportedly killed one man last week, Amnesty International said in a report published on its website on Saturday, reports UNB.
Based on interviews with eyewitnesses and analysis by its own weapons experts, Amnesty International has documented what seems to be targeted use of landmines along a narrow stretch forming part of the north-western border of Rakhine State, where the United Nations estimates 270,000 people have fled a major military operation in the past fortnight.
“This is another low in what is already a horrific situation in Rakhine State. The Myanmar military’s callous use of inherently indiscriminate and deadly weapons at highly trafficked paths around the border is putting the lives of ordinary people at enormous risk,” said Tirana Hassan, AI’s Crisis Response Director, who is currently near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
“The Myanmar Army is one of only a handful of state forces worldwide, along with North Korea and Syria, to still openly use antipersonnel landmines. Authorities must immediately end this abhorrent practice against people who are already fleeing persecution.”
Some of the mines have been found near Taung Pyo Let Wal (also known as Tumbro) in Myanmar’s Rakhine State on the edge of the border with Bangladesh.
Many have fled the area to a makeshift refugee camp inside Bangladesh, but make frequent trips back across the border to bring supplies or to help others to cross.
In one incident, on 3 September, a woman in her 50s crossed the border from Bangladesh into Taung Pyo Let Wal and stepped on a landmine on the way back.
She is being treated in a Bangladeshi hospital after her leg was blown off from the knee down.One of her relatives, Kalma, 20, told Amnesty International: “My mother-in-law went to our village [from the camp] to fetch water to take a shower. A few minutes later I heard a big explosion and I heard someone had stepped on a mine. It was only later I realised it was my mother-in-law.”
Several eyewitnesses said they had seen Myanmar security forces, including military personnel and Border Guard Police, plant mines close to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.Amnesty International verified the authenticity of graphic mobile phone images showing the woman’s shredded legs immediately after the blast.
Medical experts concluded from the nature of the injury that it was caused by an explosive device that was powerful, directed upwards and located on the ground, all of which is consistent with a landmine.
Other villagers showed photos of at least one other landmine close to the same location, which Amnesty International has also verified to be genuine.
Four other suspected mine blasts have also taken place this week by a busy crossroad near another village further inside Myanmar in the border area.
They seriously injured two boys aged between 10 and 13 and reportedly killed one man, according to witnesses and local people.
One Rohingya man who is in hiding near the crossroads, who said he and others had had found at least six other mines planted in the same area. He and other men had put their own lives at risk to dig up two of the mines to protect other villagers.
At least one of the mines used appears to be the PMN-1 antipersonnel landmine, which is designed to maim and does so indiscriminately, based on analysis of images by Amnesty International weapons experts.
In a report in June this year, Amnesty International documented how both the Myanmar Army and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and Shan State planted antipersonnel landmines or improvised explosive devices that killed and maimed people, including