• Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:54 pm

UN expert: Myanmar military junta illegal, should be held accountable

  • Published at 10:19 am March 5th, 2021
Myanmar
FILE PHOTO: Security forces stand on a road during an anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar on March 4, 2021 Reuters

UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews urged UNSC to take decisive and unified action against the military regime, including targeted sanctions, an arms embargo, and a referral to ICC to investigate

The Myanmar military junta is illegal, illegitimate and responsible for widespread and systematic human rights violations against nonviolent, peaceful protesters, the United Nations human rights expert on Myanmar said in a report. 

The military regime should be held accountable, Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on human rights situation in Myanmar, stated in the report published on Thursday (Geneva time) and Friday (Dhaka time).

He called for decisive, unified action to put an end to brutality.

"The UN Security Council is meeting on Friday to discuss the situation in Myanmar. I urge the members of the Council to consider the unrelenting brutality that we are witnessing in Myanmar," said Andrews.

"I urge the Council to take decisive and unified action against the military junta, including targeted sanctions, an arms embargo, and a referral to the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute atrocities committed since the coup on February 1 and those committed against ethnic groups in years prior,” he said.

In the report to the Human Rights Council, the UN special rapporteur detailed how the Myanmar military illegally overthrew the civilian government and proceeded to attack the people of Myanmar by committing the crimes of murder, assault and arbitrary detention.

The junta also systematically and illegitimately dismantled the people of Myanmar’s legal protections, installing new laws that remove basic protections of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and privacy.

Additionally, the report described how the military has forcibly displaced several thousand members of ethnic nationalities from their homes since the coup.

The most recent crackdown on protesters by the Myanmar military and police, including yesterday’s murder of 38 peaceful demonstrators, requires strong international action, Andrews said.

“Every day the military junta in Myanmar unleashes more brutality on peaceful protesters who are standing up for justice, human rights and democracy, defending their nation against this illegal military coup,” he said.

“While the future of Myanmar will be determined by its people, the international community must act urgently and decisively to support them," he added.

The Special Rapporteur also detailed human rights violations preceding the coup in the report, which he will present to the Council on March 11.

He demonstrated that throughout 2020, the military violated the International Court of Justice’s order to protect the Rohingya from further killings, assaults, torture and other crimes. The report showed that despite the order, Myanmar security forces continued to murder, torture, and fire indiscriminately on Rohingya civilians, while continuing to deny them equal access to citizenship rights.

UN Member States can stop the flow of arms and security and surveillance equipment to the generals of Myanmar, Andrews said. 

Forty-one countries have already imposed some form of arms embargo against the Myanmar military. These numbers must grow and governments should coordinate to stop the sale of weapons, as well the transfer of dual-use technology to Myanmar, he said.

Andrews also urged humanitarian and development donors to work directly with local Myanmar civil society and aid organisations whenever possible to directly support populations rather than through centralised mechanisms that are now controlled by the junta.

“Finally, I am urging Member states to deny recognition of the military junta as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar precisely because they are not,” Andrews added.

“Many have seen the gruesome photos and videos of people being killed or beaten or brutally arrested by police and army personnel on the streets of Myanmar,” Andrews said.

“Despite these attacks, and the grave danger that they face, the people of Myanmar continue to rise up as a diverse yet powerfully unified whole. They are doing so to demand democracy, human rights and an immediate end to the junta. The nonviolent civil disobedience movement, or CDM, is effective and growing, drawing its organic power from the unflinching and democratic desires of the Myanmar people.  Myanmar has never appeared to be more unified.

“I sincerely hope that the international community will rise to the occasion of this moment of history by following the lead and the inspiration of the people of Myanmar. And, that justice, dignity and human rights will finally prevail for all.”

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