In a sweeping call for urgent international intervention, 440 civil society organizations from Myanmar, the region, and around the world have beseeched the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to take decisive action against the intensifying brutality of the Myanmar military junta.
This collective, comprising various international human rights groups, highlighted the atrocities committed by the military regime, including systematic airstrikes, village burnings, and mass killings. Their plea, dated 17 October, aligns with the damning evidence presented in the recent report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which vividly describes the acts as “inhumanity in its vilest form.”
The report underscores the persistent culture of impunity within the military ranks, raising fears of ongoing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Echoing High Commissioner Volker Türk’s recommendations, the organizations advocate for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The appeal voices frustration over the UNSC’s previous inaction, specifically the insubstantial resolution 2669 on Myanmar adopted in December 2022. Despite the resolution’s call for peace, the military has since escalated its assault, with a chilling 150% increase in airstrikes. Reliable sources within the organizations claim that these merciless strategies have resulted in at least 4,149 fatalities and the displacement of over 1.7 million people since the coup attempt.
Recent horrifying incidents include the junta’s artillery bombardment on a camp of internally displaced persons in Kachin State, resulting in numerous casualties, including children. The organizations allege that the military continues to use sexual violence as a war tactic, with women and girls facing rampant abuse amidst the chaos.
Furthermore, the military’s restriction of humanitarian aid, even amidst natural disasters like Cyclone Mocha, has sparked international outrage. The organizations chastised the UN’s reliance on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its ineffective Five-Point Consensus, which they deem wholly inadequate in addressing the crisis. Instead, they urge the UN to assume a more active role in the situation.
The joint statement demands the adoption of a more forceful UNSC resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This new resolution would entail the crisis’s referral to the ICC, an introduction of targeted economic sanctions, and a comprehensive arms embargo against the Myanmar military.
Should the UNSC fail to act, owing to potential vetoes from permanent members like China or Russia, the organizations push for the UNGA to adopt the resolution independently, as was previously done in the case of Ukraine in 2022.
The civil society organizations call for immediate action to safeguard affected populations, proposing increased support for local humanitarian efforts and a categorical rejection of any collaboration with the junta. The collective plea underscores the urgent need for a global stance against the military’s reign of terror and a united front in supporting the people of Myanmar’s aspiration for a federal democracy.