YANGON (Reuters) – An independent investigation by the Harvard Law School has found that troops commanded by Myanmar’s powerful interior minister and two other senior officials tortured and killed civilians over six years ago while fighting an ethnic rebellion.
Researchers spent four years collecting information about Home Affairs Minister Major General Ko Ko, Brigadier General Khin Zaw Oo and Brigadier General Mang Maung Aye, said the report released on Thursday.
They commanded troops during an offensive against rebels in eastern Karen state between 2005 and 2008, when soldiers fired mortars at villages and executed civilians, among other crimes, it said.
The report did not accuse the officers of directly ordering troops to commit abuses, but said they took place because of long-standing policies that sanctioned “the direct targeting of civilians and were designed to effect large-scale displacement.”
“We’ve established that they had command and control over the forces that were committing these crimes,” said Matthew Bugher, one of the authors of the report by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School who handed over the report’s findings to the government on Wednesday.