Category: Myanmar

Myanmar’s political, rights and aid crisis is worsening six months after coup.

It’s been six months since the military coup in Myanmar where there’s grave concern over the widening impact of the deepening political, human rights and humanitarian crisis affecting the country’s people.

Speaking to UN News, the organisation’s top aid official in Myanmar, Acting Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan, described how people have been severely impacted across the country since the junta’s power grab on 1 February.

“The situation in the country is characterized now by instability and a deteriorating socio-economic and security situation and to add to that we have a raging third wave of COVID-19,” said Mr. Balakrishnan in an exclusive interview.

Highlighting the ongoing nature of armed resistance to State security forces “in several ethnic minority areas” including in the states of Shan, Chin and Kachin, the UN official said that more than 200,000 people had been uprooted from their homes there to date.

In a message of solidarity, the top aid official insisted that the UN remained committed to respecting the will of the country’s people.

This was despite limited access to parts of the country linked to security concerns and disruption to the banking system, which limited the UN’s ability to transfer funds to humanitarian partners responsible for delivering aid.

“The United Nations will continue to call out human rights violations and is committed to stay and deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar, in addition to sending in the COVID-19 response,” Mr. Balakrishnan said, according UN News.

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The UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Myanmar called for a “COVID ceasefire” on Tuesday.

He urged the UN Security Council and Member States “to use all the tools of the UN”, including adopting resolutions, to demand Myanmar’s military rulers, known officially as the State Administrative Council, stop all attacks, particularly against healthcare professionals. 

“Too many in Myanmar have needlessly perished and too many more will die without action by the United Nations”, he warned. 

Member States of the United Nations cannot afford to be complacent while the junta ruthlessly attacks medical personnel as COVID-19 spreads unchecked.

They must act to end this violence so that doctors and nurses can provide life-saving care and international organizations can help deliver vaccinations and related medical care.” 

Resolution on ceasefires 

Myanmar’s military seized power in February, sparking countless pro-democracy protests across the country which were met with violent crackdowns, and widespread human rights abuses. 

Mr. Andrews said the junta has murdered at least 931 people, while some 5,630 others are being held in arbitrary detention where they are at risk of coronavirus infection.

Another 255 people have been sentenced for “trumped up crimes”, he added, with 26, including two minors, being sentenced to death. 

In February, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for ceasefires in all conflict areas so that COVID-19 vaccinations could take place, and to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarians and medical personnel. 

“This resolution represented a principled framework to address the outbreak of COVID-19 in States experiencing unrestrained violence.  

Given this escalating crisis, these demands must now be focused specifically on Myanmar.  

Doing so will save untold numbers of lives,” said Mr. Andrews. 

Of course, the best outcome would be for the junta to stand down so that a legitimate civilian government can lead a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.  

“But in the immediate term, the junta’s relentless attacks and detentions must end. For this to be possible, the people of Myanmar need the UN and its Member States to step up with strong, principled action.”  

Special Rapporteurs, like Mr. Andrews, are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor specific countries or thematic issues.   

They serve in their individual capacity and are not UN staff, nor do they receive a salary from the Organization according UN News.

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Michelle Bachelet: From political crisis, to ‘multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe in Myanmar’.

Michelle Bachelet, UN rights chief, said the rights situation in Myanmar has changed from a political crisis to a “multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe,” noting that nearly 900 people have been killed and 200,000 forced to flee their homes because of military raids.

She noted that the World Food Program has estimated that more than 6 million people are in severe need of food aid.

The comments came during a Human Rights Council debate that prompted a string of statements by countries that denounced the violence, urged the release of political prisoners, and called for a return to democracy, aid deliveries and the rule of law, among other things.

“People across the country continue peaceful protests despite the massive use of lethal force against them, including heavy weaponry.

Myanmar

A civil disobedience movement has brought many military-controlled government structures to a standstill,” Bachelet said according ABC News.

“At the same time, Myanmar’s people have shown incredible resilience in organizing systems of mutual solidarity and support.”

“It is incumbent on the international community to stand united in pressuring the military to halt its continuing attacks on the people of Myanmar and return the country to democracy, reflecting the clear will of the people,” Bachelet said.

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