Statement by Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

Geneva, 27 May 2024 – The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar has made numerous requests to the Myanmar military for information related to the many serious crimes that we are investigating. These include crimes allegedly committed by the Myanmar security forces and by armed groups. To date, the military has not responded to any of these requests. Today the Mechanism has sent a new request and is issuing this statement in the hope that it will lead to a response.  

Today’s request asks for information about the capture and killing of two young men in Myauk Khin Yan village in the Magway Region. In a video widely circulated on the internet, armed men tied the two men and hung them from a tree, then built a fire beneath and killed the men by burning them alive.

Video footage showing the brutal treatment of these young men circulated on social media in early February 2024. The two victims, identified in media coverage as Phoe Tay and Tha Htaung, were in their early twenties and allegedly members of anti-junta group the Yaw Defence Force.

The Mechanism is conducting an impartial and independent determination of the facts surrounding this incident, including the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators. As part of this investigation, the Mechanism has asked the Myanmar military to share with it any information about the units in the area and their commanders, the circumstances of the victims’ detention and treatment, and the persons seen committing the torture and killings.

I urge the Myanmar military to fully cooperate with the Mechanism, as called for in numerous resolutions by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, by giving us access to the country and sharing requested information. The evidence collected by the Mechanism is used to objectively investigate and to build criminal cases against those perpetrators responsible for the most serious international crimes. The goal is to break the cycle of impunity, including for persons so brazen as to commit such sadistic and inhumane crimes, and to bring justice for the people of Myanmar.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM or Mechanism) was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018 to collect and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and other violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011. It aims to facilitate justice and accountability by preserving and organizing this evidence and preparing case files that can be used by authorities to prosecute individuals in national, regional and international courts.

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