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Calling on Myanmar’s military to end the violence, grant unhindered humanitarian access, and uphold human rights

June 13th, 2022  •  Author:   United Kingdom (Foreign , Commonwealth & Development Office)  •  3 minute read
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Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN General Assembly briefing by the Special Envoy on Myanmar

Thank you, Madam President, and I thank Special Envoy Heyzer for her briefing.

Five years on from the horrors of 2017, 600,000 Rohingya continue to suffer at the hands of the military. While neighbouring states host large numbers of refugees – in particular, Bangladesh, which is hosting over a million refugees.

The Rohingya people who remain in Rakhine State continue to face systematic discrimination, they are denied citizenship, and they have no access to education and healthcare. So, there is an urgent need for reform of discriminatory legislation, which creates this permissive environment for atrocity and crime.

We recognise the generosity of neighbouring states who continue to host large numbers of refugees, in particular Bangladesh, and the UK has provided over £330 million in support since 2017. Until conditions allow for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees to Myanmar, the UK remains committed to supporting the Rohingya in Bangladesh.

No one in Myanmar has been untouched by the crisis that has ensued since the military seized power in a coup last February. Communities across the country have faced brutal military crackdowns. The Tatmadaw has targeted civilians, including burning villages and conducting indiscriminate aerial bombings. There are credible reports of torture, sexual violence and mass killings, particularly in ethnic areas. The military’s actions, particularly in the North West, bear worrying echoes of their actions in Rakhine in 2017. In response, the UK has sanctioned a number of individuals, and encourages others to explore the same possibility.

Fourteen million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance – that is a 13 million increase from before the coup. But the ability of the UN and others to deliver that assistance is hampered by an inability to reach those in need. The military continues to block humanitarian access as they seek to politicise provision of aid.

We remain supportive of ASEAN’s efforts and the close cooperation between the ASEAN and UN Special Envoys to support a return to democracy in Myanmar. But the Tatmadaw has so far shown no regard for ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus.

We reiterate our strong condemnation concerning reports that the military intends to carry out executions of pro-democracy activists. We note Prime Minister Hun Sen’s clear message to the military that proceeding with these reported executions would have a devastating effect on ASEAN’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

So, we call again on the military to end the violence, grant unhindered humanitarian access, uphold human rights and engage in a process towards an inclusive and sustainable political solution.

Thank you, Madam President.

Published 13 June 2022

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