UN Mustn’t Neglect Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

November 3rd, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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“The Myanmar military’s decades-long impunity, and thus its systematic and widespread violence, will continue to prevail – and thousands of lives will continue to be lost – unless and until the military faces prosecution and is held to account for its genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

440 Myanmar, regional, and international civil society organizations

It has now been over 1,000 days since the Myanmar military attempted its coup, and amid further territorial losses in recent days in northern Shan State, it continues to resort to extreme violence and terror to try and suppress a defiant, organized, and determined people’s revolution. And while the revolution will ultimately be won by the people of Myanmar, any helping hand from international allies who seek to uphold their democratic principles and obligations and wish to see a federal democracy established will restrict the junta’s ability to commit further atrocities. Thus, as the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meets in New York, understandably preoccupied by the latest horrors occurring in Gaza, it is imperative that the UN stops neglecting Myanmar and put it high on its agenda. UN Member States must take all measures to hold the military junta accountable for its mass atrocity crimes, to work towards an arms embargo, and to ensure that international aid agencies uphold the principle of do no harm by ceasing engagement with the junta and ensure aid reaches those most in need via locally-led, frontline humanitarian responders.

Marking 1,000 days since Min Aung Hlaing launched his failed coup attempt, a campaign by Blood Money Campaign that has been supported by thousands of individuals and organizations around the world is urging Singapore to “immediately block the Myanmar junta’s access to funds, arms, equipment, and jet fuel.” This is because Singapore arms brokers continue to sell arms to the junta, while military junta and crony companies continue to access Singapore’s financial system. Singapore is not the only one, however, and this includes Israeli companies that have sold weapons to the junta since the coup attempt. The problematic sale of weapons was echoed by the report submitted to the UNGA by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, who noted how state-owned enterprises from Russia, China, and India, as well as private companies in Thailand and Singapore, among others, continue to sell arms to the junta. He called for UN Member States to immediately halt “the sale or transfer of weapons and dual-use technologies to Myanmar and holistically sanction arms dealing networks.”

Stopping the flow of arms and related materials, including aviation fuel, to the military junta is all the more urgent given the junta’s increasing use of airstrikes as a reaction to its losing control of more territory and even important towns, as seen in recent days in northern Shan State. The local research group, Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica has documented 272 airstrikes by the junta between May and August of this year, killing 163 citizens. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, recently told the UN Human Rights Council that “Each day, the people of Myanmar are enduring horrifying attacks, flagrant human rights violations and the crumbling of their livelihoods and hopes.” Yet with the dry season about to begin, a build-up of troops in Karenni State, and an inevitable reaction to recent losses in Shan State, the junta will inflict more aerial assaults, more atrocity crimes, and the humanitarian crisis will surely become more catastrophic.

Hence, while at the same time as reducing the junta’s ability to kill and displace the people of Myanmar, UN Member States and agencies must take measures to ensure the effective delivery of humanitarian aid. This involves a recognition of the vital role that frontline civil society and community-based humanitarian service providers play, having the trust of local communities, as well as the capacity to deliver assistance. Importantly, they have the access to populations who are most in need, access that the signing of an MoU with the junta – the perpetrator that is creating the humanitarian crisis in the first place – does not get due to their lack of control of large swathes of the country and weaponization of aid. However, recognition should just be a first step, and decision-making on the programing and implementation of the delivery of aid must be in the hands of such local humanitarian, cross-border actors.

In tandem with the above measures, the UNGA must take measures to pursue justice and accountability under international law for the atrocity crimes committed by the military junta. As a statement submitted to the UNGA by 440 Myanmar, regional, and international civil society organizations outlined, “The Myanmar military’s decades-long impunity, and thus its systematic and widespread violence, will continue to prevail – and thousands of lives will continue to be lost – unless and until the military faces prosecution and is held to account for its genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Whether Rohingya, Karen, Bamar, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist, justice and accountability for the Myanmar military’s crimes will serve to restore a semblance of peace and justice for the long-term recovery of the country. Thus, a UN Security Council resolution that includes a referral to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal, a global arms embargo, and targeted economic sanctions is vital. Furthermore, if such a resolution is vetoed by China and/or Russia, both major suppliers of arms to the junta, then a UNGA resolution must be passed, as the precedent of Ukraine demonstrated. Lastly, UN Member States must stop lending legitimacy to the junta, but instead must publicly and substantively engage with the legitimate governance actors of Myanmar, including the National Unity Government, Ethnic Resistance Organizations, and other people’s administrative entities.

The people of Myanmar have had very little support from international institutions and actors. As the UNGA concludes, and with various crises throughout the world taking up their attention, the struggle of the people of Myanmar amid horrific violence at the hands of the military junta must not be neglected. There are concrete actions that the UNGA can and must take to tear down the junta and to support the democratic vision of the Myanmar people. Stopping the flow of arms and aviation fuel to the junta, ensuring humanitarian assistance goes through on-the-ground civil society actors via cross-border channels, and pursuing justice and accountability are three key actions that the people of Myanmar need the world to take.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စုထံ လက်နက်၊ ငွေကြေး၊ လေယာဉ်ဆီ ကုန်သွယ် ရောင်းချနေမှုများကို အမြန်ဆုံး ရပ်တန့်ရန် စင်ကာပူအစိုးရကို အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ ပေးပို့ခြင်း နှင့် ကမ္ဘာလုံးဆိုင်ရာ လူထု လှုပ်ရှားမှု။

By 27 Myanmar Organization

Immediately block the Myanmar junta’s access to funds, arms, equipment, and jet fuel – Open letter to the Government of Singapore and the Global Public Movement

By 27 Myanmar Organization

Open letter to Government of Singapore to block the Myanmar junta’s access to funds, arms, equipment

By 431 Organizations

မြန်မာစစ်အုပ်စု အသုံးပြုခွင့်ရရှိနေသည့်, ငွေကြေးများ၊ လက်နက်များနှင့် လေယာဉ်ဆီများကို တားဆီပိတ်ဆို့ရန် မြန်မာ ပြည်သူလူထုနှင့် ပြည်တွင်း ပြည်ပ အဖွဲ့အစည်းများမှ တောင်းဆိုသည့် စင်ကာပူအစိုးရသို့ ပေးပို့သော အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ

By 431 Organizations

Open letter to UNCT, UNSE, UN and ASEAN member states and JPF

By All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Chin National Front and Karen National Union

မြန်မာနိုင်ငံဆိုင်ရာ ကုလသမဂ္ဂရုံးအဖွဲ့ (UNCT)၊ ကုလသမဂ္ဂ အထူးကိုယ်စားလှယ် (UNSE)၊ အာဆီယံ အဖွဲ့ဝင်နိုင်ငံများ နှင့် JPF (Joint Peace Fund) သို့ ပေးပို့သော အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ

By All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Chin National Front and Karen National Union

Landmark visit by Ethnic and Religious Minority Groups from Burma

By Burma Human Rights Network, Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, Women’s League of Burma, Karen Women’s Organization and Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

War Crimes Case Against Myanmar Junta Brought in the Philippines

By Chin Human Rights Organization and Myanmar Accountability Project

EU Statement – UN General Assembly 3rd Committee: Interactive dialogues on human rights in Myanmar

By European Union

Thailand: Ensure healthcare for Myanmar refugees

By Fortify Rights

Statement by Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, at the 78th Session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

Pregnant woman injured, buildings damaged, over 1,000 displaced by SAC shelling along China trade corridor in Hsenwi township, northern Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

Myanmar: UN expert urges Member States to strengthen “growing trend” of coordinated action as human rights and humanitarian crisis deepens

By UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar



Summary of SAC human rights violations in Karenni State and Pekhon Township (Sep 25- Oct 8, 2023)

By Karenni Civil Society Network

Karenni Human Rights Group – Quarterly Briefer (Volume 2 Issue 3)

By Karenni Human Rights Group

Aerial Attacks Carried Out by the Military Council (2)

By Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”