(Reuters) – Myanmar’s military is using battlefield weapons and lethal force in its crackdown on protesters against last month’s coup, Amnesty International said on Thursday.
The rights group said it had verified more than 50 videos from the crackdown, in which the United Nations says security forces have killed at least 60 protesters. It said many killings documented amounted to extrajudicial executions.
Reuters was unable to reach a junta spokesman for comment. The army has said its response to protests has been restrained.
The junta took power on Feb. 1, detaining elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and prompting daily protests across Myanmar that have at times drawn hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets.
Amnesty accused the army of using weapons suitable for the battlefield to kill protesters. It said they were in the hands of units accused by rights groups of years of atrocities against minority ethnic groups, including Rohingya Muslims.
“These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officers making poor decisions,” said Joanne Mariner, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.
“These are unrepentant commanders already implicated in crimes against humanity, deploying their troops and murderous methods in the open.”
Amnesty said weapons used included sniper rifles and light machine guns, as well as assault rifles and sub-machine guns.
It called for a stop to the killings and for the release of detainees. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says nearly 2,000 people have been detained since the coup.
In justifying its takeover, the army cited alleged fraud in a November election that Suu Kyi’s party had won. Its accusations had been dismissed by the electoral commission.
(Reporting by Reuters staff; Editing by Alex Richardson)