3 April 2021
We, 460 Myanmar civil society organizations, condemn China’s position at the UN Security Council and its ongoing efforts to water down UN Security Council statements on Myanmar. We once again reiterate our deep disappointment at the lack of concrete action by the UN Security Council, despite the gravity and escalation of the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military since the coup on 1 February. Despite repeated and vehement calls by civil society organizations to take swift action to protect the people of Myanmar from the brutal military regime, the UN Security Council has been stymied by China’s interventions, which continue to block action against Myanmar.
On 31 March, the UNSC held a closed-door meeting at the request of the United Kingdom after a weekend of deadly violence committed by the Myanmar military. While the statement agreed upon by the 15 council members reiterated the Council’s previous calls to the military, including for them “to exercise utmost restraint,” according to multiple reports an earlier statement included stronger language condemning the “killing” of civilians by security forces and expressed the Council’s “readiness to consider further steps.” China has repeatedly intervened at the Council and other UN platforms to block actions against the Myanmar military, whom it relies on for the protection of its own interests in Myanmar and the region. China’s remarks to the Council urging “parties to narrow differences so as to find a way out” and calling possible actions by the UN Security Council as “one-sided pressure” is an attempt by China to distort the reality of the brutal violence and atrocities that are being committed by the Myanmar military.
Such attempts by China at the UN Security Council to distort the truth and offer the Myanmar military further space to terrorize the people of Myanmar must be strongly condemned by those who profess to uphold peace and security of this world. According to reporting by Reuters, the UN Special Envoy warned the Council of an “imminent bloodbath” unless action is taken. The bloodbath has already happened and more will come without concrete action from the international community.
On Saturday 27 March, as the top generals, including the Commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, enjoyed lavish celebrations on Armed Forces Day, the people of Myanmar, in a reappropriation of this holiday to its original commemoration – Revolution Day, took part in a day-long general strike. The military’s response to this day of celebration, peaceful resistance, and defiance, was to murder over 140 people, many from targeted headshots. Children as young as 13 years old were shot dead on this day of terror. This is added to the growing list of child fatalities, now numbering over 40, including six-year-old, Khin Myo Chit, who was shot in the stomach on 23 March in Mandalay.
Furthermore, in ethnic minority areas, particularly in Karen State, near daily airstrikes and heavy shelling of villages since 27 March have caused thousands to flee. Dozens of innocent civilians have been killed, including children as young as five, and villages burnt to the ground. The indiscriminate use of such weaponry constitutes a war crime. These airstrikes have been launched at the same time the Myanmar military announced a unilateral ceasefire. These are empty words and must not be taken in good faith.
Two months have passed, and the regime has engaged in the targeted killings of over 540 people, while nearly 3,000 people are currently detained, or sentenced in relation to the brutal and illegitimate coup by the military. Despite this, the UNSC has yet to take any concrete action barring two mealy-mouthed statements – paralyzed by China’s continuing moves to block any concrete action. This is a total abdication of responsibility for which the people of Myanmar continue to suffer as a result. The events in Myanmar have resonance globally and reflect patterns of a growing authoritarianism, fascism, and impunity. They are a threat to regional and world peace and must not be further ignored. The people of Myanmar have overwhelmingly rejected the military coup and its violence, risking life and limb every day for peace and security, to which the world must act in support of their bravery.
We reiterate our call for 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.
For more information, please contact:
- Khin Ohmar, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nai Aue Mon, email@example.com
- Saw Alex, firstname.lastname@example.org