Australian admits shocking war crimes in Myanmar

Australian women, including the Prime Minster's wife Therese Rein, gathered to show support for the freedom of Burmese democracy figure Aung San Suu Kyi at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia in 2009. Suu Kyi was elected prime minister of Myanmar, as leader of the winning National League for Democracy party, in the 1990 elections, but was subsequently detained by the military junta, preventing her from assuming office.


Brendon Thorne

An Australian has admitted to shocking war crimes in Myanmar, confessing to committing 24 executions, before coming to the country as a refugee, Australian Associated Press reports.

Htoo Htoo Han, now an Australian citizen, says he was also involved in at least another 100 murders while working undercover for the military regime in Myanmar. 

He performed the executions during the 1988 anti-government uprising that swept Myanmar, resulting in thousands of deaths, AAP reports.

"I did it, I am a war criminal," Han is reported as saying.

"For so long I have lived like an animal.

"Now I want to release what I carry inside for 20 years. I want to say sorry to the mothers and fathers of the people I killed."

The 44-year-old father of three says he has decided to confess because he is wracked with guilt.

Han explained how he led a group posing as protestors which infiltrated student groups.

AAP reports:

He said he killed his victims with a bullet to the back of the head, but is aware of others who were buried alive and their bodies incinerated.

"Just bang, very quick. I don't do torture," Han said.

Han says he worked as an undercover officer in Burmese military intelligence from 1987 until 1992, leading a group whose main role was to identify targets and kill them.

Han has been in Australia for a decade in which time he campaigned extensively against human rights abuses in his former country. An Australian government broadcaster even made a documentary about him.

But now he expects to spend a lengthy time in jail and knows his wife and young children will suffer as a result.

"I am prepared for this. I think my wife and kids for sure will cry a lot," he said.

"But in Burma a thousand mothers cry," AAP reports.

The Australian government today referred the matter to the federal police.

The Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop called for the matter to be referred to the International Criminal Court, Australia's Herald Sun newspaper reports.

"This tragic case reveals the horrifying tactics of the Burmese military junta in suppressing the freedom and democracy movements in that country,'' Ms Bishop said in a statement.

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