Friday, 15 February 2013 13:35 Mizzima News
A group of lawyers and activists have demanded punishment for the officials who were responsible for the use of incendiary weapons against peaceful protesters at the Letpadaung copper mine on November 29.
The Irrawaddy reported on February 14 that an unofficial investigation conducted by the Lawyers Network (Myanmar) and Justice Trust (USA) had found that police had used excessive force, “including military-issue white phosphorus weapons,” against protesting monks and civilians.
“The use of inherently dangerous military arms to disperse peaceful protesters, apparently by local police during a standard law enforcement procedure, is clearly unlawful and raises issues of liability for those directly involved and for senior responsible levels of command and control in the military and government and for senior executives/military officers at Wan Bao and UMEHL,” said the report, according to AP.
The Burmese government initially claimed that tear gas and smoke bombs were launched by security forces at the protesters at the copper mine in Sagaing region. However, Dr. Chatchai Pruksapong, a burn specialist caring for a wounded monk named U Tikhanyana, is reported as saying that his injuries were not caused by tear gas, but that the monk was seared by something “severely flammable.”
White phosphorus is frequently employed in warfare—either as a smoke screen or as an incendiary weapon. However, it is rarely if ever used by police in crowd control situations.
Used in both world wars, the Vietnam-American War, and by US-led forces in Iraq, the devastating effects of white phosphorous were most recently witnessed by global TV audiences during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was appointed chairperson of an investigation commission to determine if excessive force had been used in the incident, and to report on whether the project should proceed. The committee’s report was scheduled to be released on January 31; however, it has yet to be released.
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