Atrocity Alert No. 297: Ukraine, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Myanmar (Burma) – Ukraine
Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication from the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect that highlights situations where people are at risk of or suffer mass atrocities.
HUNDREDS OF CIVILIANS FOUND EXECUTED AROUND kyiv, UKRAINE
After Russian forces withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, in late March, there were reports of hundreds of civilian casualties in areas previously occupied by Russia. As initial reports focused on evidence of targeted killings in the town of Bucha, on Friday April 15, Kyiv Regional Police reported that the bodies of more than 900 civilians had been discovered in the area. According to police, almost 95% of people were shot and killed, with many bodies left on the streets or temporarily buried. Andriy Nebytov, regional police chief, said that “therefore, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets” and alleged that Russian troops had “hunted down” people who expressed strong pro- Ukrainian views.
Since April 15, Russian forces have carried out hundreds of missile strikes in Ukraine, targeting cities across the country, including Kharkiv in the east, the port city of Mykolaiv in the south, and Lviv along the western border with Poland. While numerous missile strikes hit military targets, Russian forces also continued their assault on critical civilian infrastructure, including health facilities. Lviv is currently hosting tens of thousands of civilians who have fled fighting in eastern Ukraine. The missile strikes come as Russian forces launched an anticipated ground offensive in the Donbas region, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said would be a ‘new phase’ in his government’s so-called special operation in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian forces continue their 7-week siege of the port city of Mariupol, where thousands of civilians remain trapped without access to food, water, heat or electricity. As Russian forces attempt to take control of the city, the Ministry of Defense has issued several surrender or death ultimatums to hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians hiding in the city’s Azovstal steelworks.
On Tuesday, April 19, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that amid “the intense concentration of forces and firepower…The onslaught and terrible civilian toll we we have seen so far may well pale in comparison to the horror that lies ahead”, and called for a “4-day humanitarian break during Holy Week”, coinciding with Orthodox Easter. The Secretary-General noted that a humanitarian pause could provide the necessary conditions to allow the safe passage of all civilians wishing to leave the areas of current and anticipated clashes, as well as for the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to the hardest hit populations. areas.
HUNDREDS DETAINED AND INJURED IN RAIDS BY ISRAELI FORCES IN EASTERN JERUSALEM
More than 150 Palestinians were injured and at least 300 detained in two large-scale Israeli police raids on April 15 and 17 at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). . Israeli police used disproportionate force, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to forcibly remove Palestinians from the compound. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in East Jerusalem and called for “the maintenance and respect of the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem”.
The recent violent incidents at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound recall similar raids carried out by Israeli forces during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in May 2021. After weeks of escalating tensions and protests, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured in a series of raids. May 7-10. The violence quickly escalated and from May 10 to 21, Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately into Israel while Israel carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes killed and injured around 2,170 Palestinians while indiscriminate rockets from Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups killed at least 12 Israelis.
Ahead of last week’s raids in al-Aqsa, targeted attacks have intensified over the past month. Since March 22, five Palestinian assailants have carried out four attacks in Israeli towns, killing 14 people. The violence prompted Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to grant “all security forces full freedom” of operations to try to prevent further attacks. Israeli forces then launched widespread raids across the occupied West Bank, killing more than 25 Palestinians.
The recent violence occurs amid systematic human rights abuses in the OPT, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. On April 9, Israel implemented a series of sweeping economic sanctions against residents of the city of Jenin, which could amount to collective punishment. Last month, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 concluded that Israel’s two-tier legal and political system amounted to the international crime of apartheid. Under the International Convention against Apartheid and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, apartheid is a crime against humanity.
The international community must immediately condemn the violence at al-Aqsa Mosque and call on Israeli forces to refrain from using disproportionate force. The international community should urgently ensure accountability for the ongoing atrocities committed in Israel and the OPT, including the crime of apartheid. UN member states should implement a series of measures consistent with international legal principles to end Israel’s 55-year occupation and apartheid practices.
MYANMAR’S HEALTH SYSTEM COLLAPSES AS MILITARY TARGETS MEDICAL PERSONNEL
Myanmar’s (Burma) military – the Tatmadaw – is stepping up its crackdown on the country’s health care system as part of its broader campaign to quell ongoing anti-coup resistance across the country. Since the coup, military forces have arrested doctors, revoked the licenses of prominent doctors, raided hospitals for injured resistance fighters, and threatened to shut down health facilities that employ anti-junta doctors. According to Physicians for Human Rights, Myanmar is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a healthcare worker, with more documented attacks on healthcare in 2021 than any other country.
The military has consistently targeted doctors in Myanmar since the February 2021 coup, with attacks on healthcare workers increasing from September to January 2022 amid escalating violence across the country. Physicians for Human Rights estimated in January that the military had killed at least 30 doctors, arbitrarily arrested or detained more than 286 health workers, and attacked 128 health facilities since the coup. The army has also occupied dozens of hospitals and used them as military bases, in violation of international humanitarian law, discouraging patients from seeking medical help. The intentional targeting of hospitals by the Tatmadaw may constitute war crimes.
The collapse of Myanmar’s health system has devastating consequences for civilians. Access to health care is severely limited due to a severe shortage of doctors, a lack of essential resources and the closure of many medical facilities. Anti-junta doctors estimate that hundreds of people are dying each week due to the collapse of the health system, while the United Nations Children’s Fund has reported that nearly a million children are not receiving routine vaccinations. The situation is particularly dire for regions facing intensified violent conflict, where government-run hospitals are often not functioning. Some doctors who refuse to work in military hospitals offer free services in private and clandestine clinics; however, the army also targets these facilities and considers people who seek treatment at these clinics as “illegal patients”.
The deliberate targeting of workers and health facilities underscores the severity of the military’s broader campaign to crush resistance. Liam Scott, research associate at the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, said that “as the Tatmadaw continues to harass and target anti-regime doctors, human rights and health disasters will become more and more serious. serious. The dire situation demonstrates the urgent need for increased international action. The UN Security Council should immediately impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and sanction the country’s oil and gas sector. UN Member States must support humanitarian organizations seeking to address the health crisis in Myanmar.