22 October, 2022: The beheading of a National Unity Government (NUG) school teacher by Myanmar junta forces is an act of terror under international and Myanmar law. The United Nations (UN) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must take urgent action to hold the junta accountable for atrocities committed against school children and teachers in Myanmar, says the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M).
According to reports, U Saw Tun Moe, a teacher at a civilian NUG-funded school in Thit Nyi Naung village in southern Pauk Township, Magwe Region, was abducted by junta troops on Sunday, 16 October. The next day his body was found decapitated leaning against the gate of a school in the nearby village of Taung Myint. His head was impaled on a spike on the school gate above his body and three of his fingers had been cut off and placed between his thighs.
“The atrocities being committed by the junta in Myanmar have reached a new level of inhumanity,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “The junta is escalating its barbaric attacks against children and teachers in a vain attempt to break the morale of the population who steadfastly reject it and for whom education is a pillar of the society they are sacrificing so much to create. If ASEAN supports the Myanmar peoples’ vision of the future, it must take urgent action to end the senseless junta-violence.”
Education in Myanmar is increasingly becoming a target for junta atrocities. A school headmaster who was taking part in the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement was reportedly stabbed to death on Monday in Ayeyarwady Region while on 16 September, junta attack helicopters fired heavy weapons into a school in a monastery in Sagaing Region killing at least 11 children and injuring 17. Such attacks are gross violations of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
The junta has been committing systematic and widespread atrocities against the civilian population of Myanmar ever since its failed coup attempt in February 2021. Despite this, the alliance of democratic resistance forces, represented by the NUG, have the greatest claim to effective control in Myanmar. The NUG, people’s administration bodies and Ethnic Resistance Organisations (EROs) are delivering government services, including education, to millions of people across the country in areas under their control.
“Beheading someone and putting the body on display for the public to see is a clearly defined act of terror,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “The Myanmar military leaders have waged a bloody campaign of terror against the Myanmar people for more than 20-months. They must face international accountability. The ICC urgently needs to act on the NUG’s article 12(3) declaration and the military needs to be declared a terrorist organisation under international law.”
The Myanmar military meets the criteria of a terrorist organisation under both Myanmar and international law. SAC-M continues to call on the international community to designate and treat it as such.
“The junta shells schools, massacres school children and decapitates teachers in Myanmar with impunity. This is a deliberate attack on Myanmar’s future,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “The Myanmar people know the military has no future in Myanmar. When will the United Nations wake up to this reality and finally hold military leaders accountable for their horrific crimes? The UN’s current approach to engagement with the junta makes it complicit in the atrocities being committed against the Myanmar people.”
To protect the lives of the Myanmar people and bring the leaders of the military junta to justice, SAC-M is calling on:
– The UN Security Council to put to a vote a resolution on Myanmar to impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on the junta, financial and economic sanctions against the junta, to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to commence the process of declaring the Myanmar military a terrorist organisation and require UN members states treat it as such;
– The UN General Assembly to fully accept the credentials of Myanmar’s representative to the UN, NUG appointee Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, with all the rights and privileges of any other member state, including representation in all other UN bodies and forums;
– ASEAN to engage formally with the NUG, accept the NUG as the representative of Myanmar in ASEAN meetings and forums, and use the ASEAN Summit in November to reach a new agreement on how to respond to the junta-made crises in Myanmar, developed in consultation with the NUG;
– UN officials, agencies and other humanitarian actors to cease all activities that grant legitimacy to the junta, including presenting credentials to Min Aung Hlaing and participating in photo opportunities with the generals and their collaborators, and adhere to humanitarian principles by engaging primarily with the NUG and resistance organisations;
– The ICC to accept the NUG’s article 12(3) declaration accepting ICC jurisdiction in Myanmar dating back to 2002 and urgently expand the current investigation on the basis of the declaration.