The United Nations has expressed concern over human rights abuses in Myanmar after after a mass grave was discovered in the country amid the army’s ongoing crackdown against anti-coup protesters.
The warning by the U.N. came after the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) executed some 25 civilians while government security forces burned down a village.
The KNDO, a political organization of the Karen ethnic minority that has sought more autonomy for decades, claimed the victims spied for the government but the military said the men it killed were road construction workers, according to the AP.
The U.N. in its statement called on “all actors in the current crisis to ensure that international human rights norms and standards are respected.”
“This includes upholding the obligation to minimize collateral harm to civilians and to civilian infrastructure, and prohibiting the application of collective punishments against communities, families or individuals,” it said.
The KNDO says it will investigate the incident, insisting that the group “follows the Geneva Convention which does not condone the killing of civilians during armed conflict.”
The U.N. statement called for “those responsible for human rights violations to be held accountable, including the perpetrators and their chain of command.”
The incident followed the military’s burning of Kinma village in the Magway Region of central Myanmar.
A resident of the village confirmed to the AP that government troops were responsible for burning down most of the village’s roughly 250 houses, and that an elderly couple unable or unwilling to flee with the rest of the villagers were believed to have perished in the blaze.
Government-controlled media, however, reported that “terrorists” were responsible for the conflagration, charging that they had burned down the home of someone unsympathetic to their cause and that the wind had then spread the fire.
The government and its opponents each refer to the other side as “terrorists.”