Since mid-2021, landmine use has increased significantly in Myanmar, and on a widespread basis. Following local attacks by anti-military militias on some mobile phone infrastructure owned by the Myanmar military establishment, antipersonnel landmines were laid near the base of mobile phone towers by the Myanmar Armed Forces in atleast 48 townships, which led to casualties among mobile phone company engineers.
New antipersonnel landmines were laid near mobile phone towers in townships in 48 townships in Chin, Kayin, Mon and Shan States, and Ayawaddy, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tahintharyi and Yangon Regions. Some of these such as Ayawaddy and Yangon had never previously been found to have antipersonnel landmine contamination.
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In one example, in April 2022, residents of Kyee Kan Taung Village, Mu Yoe Village group, Ma Hlaing Township, Mandalay Division reported that a 15-year-old girl was seriously injured, and later lost her leg, after stepping on a mine planted near Mytel Relay Tower.
The tower, was in the process of being fenced, however the girl was injured when herding cows under the partially fenced tower. Reportedly the Myanmar Armed Forces were in the process of laying landmines and fencing some cell phone towers.
Additional infrastructure in the country has also reportedly been mined. In November 2021 in Hsipaw township, in Shan State, the populace was verbally warned by the Myanmar Armed Forces of antipersonnel landmines being laid by its military around a pumping station on the pipeling in the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, part of the People’s Republic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
In August 2022 MM-6 antipersonnel landmines were discovered by a local militia on the perimeter of the Letpadaung Copper Mine in the Salingyi Township of Sagaing Region. The copper mine is a joint venture between a subsidiary of the Norinco Industries, a state owned arms manufacturer in the PRC, and the Myanmar military’s Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited. In August 2022, the North Yamar People’s Defense Force lifted 78 MM6 antipersonnel landmines which it stated had been planted by the Myanmar Armed Forces around the copper mine according to the Irrawaddy on Twitter.
Defence Ministry officials have previously acknowledged a policy of landmine use by the Myanmar Armed Forces. In July 2019, an official at the Union Minister Office for Defence told the Landmine Monitor that landmines are still used by the Myanmar Armed Forces in border areas and around infrastructure.
Some additional reporting, “Telecoms tower sites mined by Myanmar military” Myanmar Now, 5 November 2021.
“Villagers’ security threatened by Burma Army landmines along Chinese pipelines in Hsipaw, northern Shan State” Shan Human Rights Foundation, 18 January 2022.