Satellite Images Confirm Human Rights Abuses in Myanmar

The brutal crackdown of nationwide protests in in Myanmar last week has led to strong international condemnation of the military junta in Burma, while images and video of Burmese soldiers attacking Buddhist monks, who led many of the demonstrations that grew to as many as 100,000 before the crackdown began, have gripped the world media.

But the public dispersions of the protests haven’t been the junta’s only violent attempts to crack down on dissent. A new analysis of high-resolution satellite images completed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "pinpoints evidence consistent with village destruction, forced relocations, and a growing military presence at 25 sites across eastern Burma where eyewitnesses have reported human rights violations," according to the AAAS website:

The research by AAAS, a non-profit, non-partisan organization and the world’s largest general scientific society, offers clear physical evidence to corroborate on-the-ground accounts of specific instances of destruction. It is believed to be the first demonstration of satellite image analysis to document human rights violations in Burma, also known as Myanmar.


AFP has additional details:

Patches of scorched earth corresponding to settlements reportedly destroyed are visible in the high-definition photographs taken by satellites zooming in on the secretive state in late April and analyzed by the Washington-based American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Now the group has trained the satellites on Myanmar’s main cities to try and peer through the clouds and see military deployments amid the current unrest, as the crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by monks has turned bloody.

In Karen areas of eastern Myanmar, the group used three commercial satellites to focus on 31 "attack sites" of reported rights violations from mid-2006 to early 2007, AAAS project director Lars Bromley told reporters Friday.

In one picture, a satellite spotted foundations and fence lines with all the structures gone, where a village had stood two years earlier.

The area photographed was the site of a reported military raid on April 22, on Karen villagers accused by the regime of supporting armed rebels. Bromley estimated a dozen people were killed there and the rest fled.

The image on the left, above, shows a settlement adjacent to rice paddies in 2000. The image on the right shows the same area in December 2006. This area was reported attacked in April 2006. Check out this ABC News slideshow for additional photos from AAAS.