This statement is delivered on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Myanmar is going through the devastating results of pushing aside the will of its people, as was clearly expressed at the general elections of 8 November 2020. The widespread popular call for respect for democracy has been met by the military with a reprehensive escalation of violence, indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, and forced disappearances. The victims include children, medical staff, peaceful demonstrators and casual bystanders. This is completely unacceptable.
The EU condemns in the strongest terms the military coup, the appalling level of violence and the gross and widespread violations of human rights. We call on the military authorities to immediately end the state of emergency and lift the martial law, restore the legitimate elected civilian government, allow the parliament to take up its role and end the arbitrary detentions and arrests, including of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, other government officials and politicians. We call on military authorities and security forces to end the systematic targeting of members of the civil society, including human rights defenders, demonstrators, medical staff and journalists.
We stress the urgent need to ensure accountability for all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
We recall that Myanmar must also address the root causes of conflict, especially in Rakhine State, and create conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons, including the Rohingya. This also includes ensuring adequate assistance including health services and education, and access to justice to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
The internet blackouts and restrictions on freedom of press and independent media are attempts to hinder the population’s access to information and their ability to tell the world of the abuses that are taking place. This attempt will not succeed. We call on Myanmar to re-open all channels of communication, and also to grant immediate, full, safe and unhindered access for all United Nations mandate holders and human rights mechanisms. This includes the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, the Special Rapporteur and relevant United Nations agencies and international and regional courts or tribunals.
We have been clearly warned: the violence is spiralling out of control and could lead to a civil war. There is an immediate risk of a blood bath. If this development is not stopped and reversed, it will lead to a tragedy for Myanmar that will have destabilising effects throughout the region. This is not a national or internal affair; it is a threat to neighbouring countries, the region as a whole and to international peace and security.
The international community, particularly the UN and regional actors, have the responsibility to act. The actors in the region are in best placed to do so. We look forward to the planned ASEAN Leaders Summit and will work closely with the ASEAN countries towards our common goal: to stop the spiral of violence and establish a dialogue that can lead to de-escalation and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. We will continue to work with all those willing to support Myanmar’s path towards democracy, the rule of law and human rights, including freedom of assembly, association, expression and access to information.
The EU has adopted targeted sanctions against those responsible for the coup, and we expect to expand the sanctions regime later this month, also targeting the military’s economic interests. We have frozen development assistance channelled through the Government’s budget and paused all project activities supporting the authorities. We are thereby guided by the principle of ‘do no harm’: targeting those responsible for the coup while avoiding any negative impact on the population. We are also stepping up our humanitarian aid, and have allocated an additional 39 million euros of humanitarian aid for affected communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar. We call on all parties, including the military, to facilitate immediate, full, safe and unhindered access for the humanitarian medical organisations to all people in need.
Together with a cross-regional group of countries, we are working to prepare a General-Assembly resolution on the situation in Myanmar. To speak out and counter what we see in Myanmar is what the UN was established to do and we are counting on broad support for our attempt to do so. We also encourage the Security Council to build on the consensus that allowed for the adoption of the presidential statement of March 10th and take further action in order to contribute to a resolution of the crisis.
The European Union and its Member States will continue to support the people of Myanmar.