We, 488 Myanmar civil society organizations, express our deep disappointment at the lack of action by the UN Security Council, despite repeated and vehement calls by civil society organizations to take swift action to protect the people of Myanmar from the brutal military regime. We condemn Russia, India, Vietnam, and China’s stance at the UN Security Council, and strongly condemn China’s position, which diminishes the role and responsibility of the United Nations and the international community to act to prevent the Myanmar military junta from committing further atrocities against the people.
On 10 March, the United States as the President of the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the violence against peaceful protesters after the Council’s closed–door meeting on the situation in Myanmar. According to reporting by Reuters, the draft version of the Council’s statement included language that condemned the military coup and indicated that the Council would be ready “to consider possible further measures”. We note with deep disappointment that this statement could not be issued due to disagreement from China, Russia, India and Vietnam. Sadly, this shows the UNSC’s inability to take any meaningful action.
There have been repeated urgent calls – most recently by 452 civil society organizations – for the UN Security Council to immediately act. These calls have gone unheeded and the situation has reached an alarming point where the junta is committing vicious, inhumane and deliberate attacks against unarmed civilians with lethal force, day and night, with the sole aim to harm and kill.
- Over one month has passed since the coup and the regime has engaged in targeted killings of over 80 people while more than 2,000 individuals have been arrested, charged or sentenced in relation to the brutal and illegitimate coup by the Myanmar military. Security forces are entering people’s homes, keeping family members hostage if their targets are not home. There have been several cases, including NLD members, of people being taken away at night, only for their dead body to be returned the next day, displaying visible signs of torture. Several other cases of torture during detention have been reported. Snipers positioned on rooftops and a worryingly large proportion of deaths through head shots demonstrates the willful and predetermined use of lethal violence by the military. Since the letter by the Myanmar Civil Society Organizations was sent to the UN Security Council on 3 March 2021, the number of deaths has doubled in less than a week. Many that are being targeted and killed by the security forces are young – some as young as 14 years old – and have been deliberately shot in the head by snipers. Among those killed was a 19-year-old young woman, Kyal Sin, whose Chinese name is Deng Jia Xi and is also known as Angel, who was shot in the head at the frontlines of the protest in Mandalay. Worse yet, her body was exhumed, and the bullet was removed from her body.
- Security forces are washing away blood in the streets of Myanmar, and along with it traces of evidence of the massacre, including destroying CCTV cameras and confiscating mobile phones.
- Police savagely beat medics whom they had just detained, repeatedly hitting them with the butts of their rifles. Ambulances have been indiscriminately shot at and smashed and seized. The junta’s army has invaded and occupied public hospitals and universities in different parts of the country.
- The military has also been arresting and cracking down on journalists. To date, at least 38 journalists have been arrested. The junta has banned five independent media – Myanmar Now, Democratic Voice of Burma, Mizzima, Khit Thit and 7 Day – stripping them of their licenses. Meanwhile, the offices of media outlets, Myanmar Now, Kamaryut and Mizzima have been raided.
- Many public-sector workers and civil servants who have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement, as well as youth activists, civil society actors and individuals from political parties including MPs-elect from the 2020 elections and members of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) have been either arrested, detained, or had arrest warrants issued for them. Many of them have been charged under draconian sections of the Penal Code, which was amended after the coup to give the regime carte blanche to arrest and charge anyone protesting the regime, or those that “hinder the performance of the Defense Services.”
Yet, despite such terror inflicted against the people of Myanmar, China has voiced its position of non-interference, describing the increasingly lethal situation as an internal affair, emphasizing political stability and sovereignty, while shifting the attention to ASEAN’s regional role. At the same time, China, in an emergency meeting with the illegitimate Myanmar junta on February 23rd, has requested the military regime to ensure the security of the oil and natural gas twin pipelines that runs from Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State to China and impose better security measures following the coup. This is according to a leaked document of the meeting that took place between the Director-General of external security affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Myanmar military regime.
This is an affront, not only to the lives taken by the illegitimate and brutal regime which China protects and legitimizes, but to the international community that professes to uphold human rights and democracy and to prevent further atrocities. China’s actions to shield such a joint criminal enterprise as the Myanmar military junta and its failure to fulfil its obligation as a permanent member of the UN Council must be condemned by the wider larger international community.
The situation on the ground is pointing to an imminent, sustained and widespread lethal clampdown on peaceful protesters, most of whom are of the young generation and are the future leadership of Myanmar. Inaction by the international community and allowing China, Russia, India and Vietnam to continue to shield the military will not only further embolden them to continue commit these grave crimes that may amount to crimes against humanity, with blanket impunity, but also disregards the rule of law. The increasing and systematic nature of the attacks against the people of Myanmar by the junta’s security forces calls for immediate action from the Security Council in order to ensure the protection of the people of Myanmar, to prevent further atrocity crimes and support the world’s peace and stability.
We call on the UN Security Council to:
- Immediately dispatch an enhanced monitoring and intervention mission to Myanmar to stop the violent attacks by the junta on peaceful protesters, prevent further bloodshed and loss of life and release all those arbitrarily detained;
- Urgently impose a coordinated, global arms embargo on Myanmar; and
- Refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court to hold the military regime to account for the atrocity crimes that it has committed and is continuing to commit.
Should the Security Council fail to fulfil its mandate, we call on the UN General Assembly to exercise its power enshrined in the UN Charter to act to protect the people.
- Kyaw Win, Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN), firstname.lastname@example.org, UK: +44(0) 740 345 2378
- Myra Dahgaypaw, U.S. Campaign for Burma, email@example.com, UK: +1 718-207-2556
- Wai Wai Nu, Women Peace Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, US: +1 (510) 345-8309