Scenes of unimaginable horror on Tuesday morning in northwestern Myanmar when a crowd of men, women and children were bombed from the air at the opening of a new office for the People’s Defense Armed Forces (PDF) which left bodies blown apart and mangled across a large area with at least 100 people dead. Afterwards, junta helicopter gunships returned repeatedly to strafe civilians as they responded to the outrage.

The special UN rapporteur for Myanmar, on Tuesday, slammed the response of the international community to the crisis in the country and the widespread abuses of the military junta regime which seized power and overthrew the democratic government in February 2021. He was speaking only hours after horrific eyewitness reports from the small village of Pazigyi in northwestern Sagaing state where at least a hundred civilians died in appalling scenes of destruction and brutality after a deliberate bombing raid by junta aircraft. Tom Andrew said the response lacked strategy and was ‘distorted’ in its nature.

un-official-tom-andrews slams-distorted-myanmar-response-compared-ukraine
(Inset) Scenes from Sagaing state in Myanmar on Tuesday after junta aircraft bombed and killed at least 100 civilians in yet another civilian massacre and atrocity in the ongoing civil war. The incident led the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews (right) to question the international response to the crisis in the country, describing it as ‘distorted’ and comparing it unfavourably to the co-ordinated, strategic response in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar, Mr Tom Andrews, on Tuesday, described as ‘outrageous’ an atrocity committed by Myanmar’s junta and went on to criticise the distorted and non-strategic response of the international community to the ongoing conflict in the country which is now become an all-out people’s revolution against the undemocratic ruling regime following a coup d’état which led to a military junta assuming power on the 1st February 2021.

He was speaking after graphic news reports and visual images were shown around the world in the aftermath of a massacre of civilians which took place on Tuesday in the northwestern state of Sagaing as local people including men, women and children turned out to celebrate the opening of a People’s Defense Armed Forces (PDF) office in support of the country’s democratic National Unity Government (NUG).

The unity government claims popular support and to be the legitimate government of Myanmar based on the results of an internationally monitored election in November 2020 which led to the military coup over two months later.

Aircraft bombing attack took place after 8 am and left horrific scenes in its wake according to an eyewitness who was interviewed on US news station CNN

The attack at 8 am on Pazigyi village in the Kanbalu township of the state, saw bombs dropped by a jet plane on the centre of a crowd and is thought to have killed at least 100 civilians and left horrific images in its wake.

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An eyewitness to the atrocity spoke with international Atlanta based US news station CNN.

‘We didn’t have any warning,’ he explained. ‘Most of the villagers were inside the event, so they didn’t notice the jet.’

‘When I arrived at the scene we tried to search for people still alive. Everything was terrible. People were dying on motorbikes. Children and women. Some lost their heads, limbs and hands. I saw flesh on the road. I saw lots of people coming onto the scene to search for their kids, crying and screaming.’

National Unity Government (NUG) controls most of northwestern Sagaing state with over 5.3 million inhabitants. Atrocity drew a response from its PM 

In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity with reports of junta helicopter gunships, supplied and armed by Russia and China, returning to strafe civilians just minutes after the bombing and later that evening at 5.30 pm, Mahn Winn Khine Than, the Prime Minister of the National Unity Government (NUG) which controls most of Sagaing state with over 5.3 million inhabitants, took to social media and implored international organisations including the United Nations to act.

Arms and military hardware supply route to Myanmar armed forces via Pakistan supported by China

‘I implore the UN: how many more massacres must occur before you take action? How much longer will our people suffer under this,’ he said.

The attack was later confirmed by junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun who said the air raid on Pazigyi Village was a strike against ‘terrorists’. 

While the US Department of State said it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the attack and called for the junta to ‘cease the horrific violence’ in Washington DC, the UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews was not impressed.

UN rapporteur strongly criticises response of the international community as lacking in strategic thinking and ‘distorted’ compared to that in Ukraine

He castigated the international community for simply voicing support but failing to take effective action against the military junta that was committing ‘crimes against humanity’ while failing to halt the supply of weapons to commit such atrocities.

‘It’s just absolutely outrageous. But then also there are those who condemn these killings and say they support the people of Myanmar. The fact is that the response by the international community has been distorted, it has not been organised, and it has not been strategic.’

Mr Andrews contrasted it to the international community’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.

He said the people of Myanmar were wondering ‘why is it that we respond so forcefully to the situation like the invasion of Ukraine but have failed to take the requisite action to help a very desperate country that is under assault by this military (the Tatmadaw)’.

Situation will only get worse as desperate and insecure junta resorts to aerial terror of the people

The UN official also warned that the situation in Myanmar was bound to get worse as the junta has lost the support of local villages and people who will not accept its right to rule.

‘The problem for the junta is that they expected, fully expected to be in complete control of the country by now and that they could conduct their sham elections. Well they’re losing control of the country, they’re losing control on the ground.’

Mr Andrews said he feared that the only military tactics open to the junta will likely lead to more civilian deaths and massacres like that seen on Tuesday as the junta bombs cannot distinguish the People’s Defense Armed Forces (PDF) fighters from the civilian population.

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Further reading:

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