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Myanmar nationals ask Philippines to probe alleged war crimes

MANILA (AFP) – Five Myanmar nationals asked the Philippines yesterday to investigate alleged war crimes committed by 10 serving or former members of Myanmar’s military against the mainly Christian Chin minority.

Filipino lawyers representing the Myanmar nationals told reporters they lodged the “landmark” criminal complaint against junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and nine others at the Department of Justice in Manila.

They asked prosecutors to open an investigation into alleged war crimes under a Philippine law penalising “crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide, and other crimes against humanity”.

The five Myanmar nationals are from western Chin state, but now live in Australia, Britain, Canada and India. They were at the Department of Justice in Manila.

“This is a landmark suit because this is the very first time that such a case is being brought before the Philippines,” Romel Bagares, one of the lawyers, told reporters.

The justice department did not immediately respond to AFP‘s request for comment. Among the accused is Chin Chief Minister Vung Suan Thang, who is a former military officer. The others are serving members of the military.

The complaint alleged that members of Myanmar’s military killed a pastor and two church elders in Thantlang town, Chin, in September 2021.

It also accused the 10 of “intentionally” directing attacks on churches and the burning of hundreds of houses in the same town between August 2021 and June 2022.

They also allegedly blocked relief supplies reaching people in Chin state in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha in May.

A group of Myanmar nationals arrive to file a criminal complaint at the Department of Justice in Manila, the Philippines. PHOTO: AFP