Statement 86 Views

Myanmar: UN expert urges coordinated action by UN Member States on eve of third anniversary of military coup

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GENEVA (30 January 2024) – UN Member States must reassess conditions in Myanmar and act urgently to save the lives of the most vulnerable in the face of indiscriminate attacks by a weakened military junta, said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. On the eve of the third anniversary of the junta’s military coup in Myanmar, he issued the following statement:

“Over the past three months, the military has suffered significant losses in the face of coordinated offensives by resistance forces. Hundreds of military posts and dozens of towns have fallen to opposition groups in northern Shan State, Rakhine State, and elsewhere. The military’s already limited territorial control is rapidly crumbling. The shrinking military force, driven by high casualty and defection rates, surrenders and recruitment challenges, poses an existential threat to the junta.

The junta is responding to humiliating losses by attacking civilians with aerial and artillery bombardments of towns and villages captured by opposition forces. The junta’s crimes are enabled by a robust supply of sophisticated weapons from sources outside Myanmar. This creates both an opportunity and an obligation for the international community to act.

UN Member States must reassess the crisis in Myanmar in light of the significant developments that are unfolding there and launch a robust coordinated effort to target and cut off the junta’s access to weapons and funding.

We know that international sanctions are working. Sanctions targeting junta-controlled banks and enterprises, weapons dealers, and aviation fuel have impaired the junta’s ability to carry out attacks on the people of Myanmar. Sanctions must now be extended to new targets and vigorously enforced to maximise their impact.

Donors and humanitarian agencies must ensure that aid reaches the most vulnerable, including displaced populations in opposition-controlled areas.

Recent developments have laid to rest the junta’s claims of inevitability and that it alone can prevent the violent break-up of Myanmar. Precisely the opposite is true. The junta can only be seen as a unifying force in that it has united the people of Myanmar against it. Far from being a source of stability, the junta is in fact a source of chaos and brutality that has displaced millions and driven the population into ever greater misery and despair.

On the third anniversary of the junta’s military coup, the people of Myanmar need and deserve more from the international community than statements or disjointed actions. Now, more than ever, is the time for coordinated international action that supports the heroic efforts of the people of Myanmar while degrading the junta’s ability to brutalise its own people.”

Mr. Thomas Andrews (United States of America) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. A former member of the US Congress from Maine, Andrews is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School and an Associate of Harvard University’s Asia Center. He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen. He has been a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network and has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide.

The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests please contact the OHCHR Secretariat: [email protected]

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) and Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).

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