Grave rights abuses perpetrated recently in Myanmar represent an "alarming escalation of violence," the UN Human Rights Office said on Friday, citing reports that security forces killed and burned alive 11 people, including five minors, and rammed vehicles into protesters.
"We are appalled by the alarming escalation of grave human rights abuses in Myanmar," said spokesman Rupert Colville of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at a UN press conference.
"In the last week alone, security forces have killed and burned to death 11 people -- among them five minors -- and rammed vehicles into protesters exercising their fundamental right to peaceful assembly."
He said that more than 10 months since Myanmar's military overthrew the democratically elected government, the country's human rights situation was deepening "on an unprecedented scale."
The rights office praised Myanmar's "courageous and resilient people" for marking Human Rights Day and for their opposition to the coup with a universal silent protest on Friday.
Colville was asked whether the conflict in Myanmar was turning into a civil war.
"You already have, essentially, groups that oppose the government who seem to feel they have no option but to take up arms because nothing is happening in terms of dialogue, in terms of a political resolution to the situation," he said.
"And you've had the military build-ups in various parts of the country in the past few months, which we've already flagged."
On Tuesday, militia forces allegedly ambushed a Myanmar army unit with a remote-controlled explosive device in Salingyi township of Sagaing region, said the rights office.
Security personnel reportedly responded by raiding the village of Done Taw and arresting six men and five minors -- the youngest of whom was 14 years of age.
Villagers who said they saw fire coming from the area later found the burned remains of the 11 males, said Colville.
"The villagers indicated that human corpses were contorted into shapes that appeared as though they were trying to shelter one another and escape from burning huts."
In a separate incident on Sunday, security forces in Kyimyindaing township, Yangon, rammed a vehicle into unarmed protesters and then fired on them with live ammunition, leading to several casualties, said the UN office.
"These attacks are heinous, completely unacceptable, and disregard common values of humanity. They are also far from isolated," said Colville.
In recent weeks, the rights office had received multiple reports of villages being burned, including protected structures such as places of religious worship and residential buildings.
"Since the coup, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing's forces have repeatedly failed to respect their obligations under international law to protect the country's people," said Colville.
As a result, more than 1,300 people have lost their lives, and over 10,600 more have been detained.
"These latest grave violations demand a firm, unified and resolute international response that redoubles efforts to pursue accountability for the Myanmar military and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar," said the UN Rights Office spokesman.
The Burmese military, known locally as Tatmadaw, launched a military coup in February and jailed civilian authorities.
Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the military regime, has since named himself prime minister, promising multi-party elections and lifting the state of emergency by August 2023 – instead of the initial one-year timeline.
More than 1,000 people were killed while over 5,400 others were arrested by junta forces, many of whom have been since released.