UN calls for end to violence in Myanmar and return to democracy

The UN’s most powerful body also reiterated its call for the release of “all those who remain arbitrarily detained”, including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose elected government was overthrown by the military on February 1, 2021. .

The UN Security Council on Thursday called for an immediate cessation of violence across Myanmar as the country’s military coup entered its second year, and reaffirmed its support for democratic transition and democratic institutions in the country. The UN’s most powerful body also reiterated its call for the release of “all those who remain arbitrarily detained”, including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose elected government was overthrown by the military on February 1, 2021. .

In a statement endorsed by the 15-member council, the council said it was “deeply concerned” by the continuation of the state of emergency imposed by Myanmar’s military rulers a year ago and “the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs , particularly among women, children and vulnerable groups, against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first anniversary of Tuesday’s coup was marked by a nationwide strike, protests and sporadic violence across the country. Several pro-military demonstrations, widely believed to have been organized by the authorities, also took place.

Widespread non-violent protests followed the military seizure of power and the ousting of Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party was set to begin a second term after winning a landslide election victory . After the protests were put down with lethal force by the military, armed resistance erupted.

About 1,500 civilians were killed, but the government was unable to quell the opposition, which spread across the country. Noeleen Heyzer, the UN’s new special envoy for Myanmar, said on Monday that violence and brutality have escalated since the military seized power, sparking the resistance movement, and all sides have toughened their positions on “the use of violence as a solution”. She told a virtual press conference that the situation in Myanmar is increasingly volatile and that military operations, including artillery attacks and airstrikes, have raised concerns about the protection of civilians. .

Since the end of December, Heyzer said, the number of internally displaced people has risen from more than 320,000 to more than 400,000. “This is in addition to the 340,000 people already displaced before February 1, 2021.” , she said. The Security Council “expressed its deep concern at further recent violence in the country and was alarmed at the large number of internally displaced persons”. Members “condemned attacks on infrastructure, including health and education facilities.” “They called for an immediate halt to all forms of violence throughout the country and to ensure the safety of civilians,” the statement said.

The Security Council stressed the need to urgently scale up humanitarian assistance and facilitate the unimpeded delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Council members also reiterated their full support for the role of the Association of 10 Nations of Southeast Asian Nations “to facilitate a peaceful solution” and reiterated their calls for the speedy implementation of the consensus in five points of the ASEAN adopted last April, which includes an immediate end to violence. , starting a dialogue between all parties.

The Security Council also addressed the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. In 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to flee a military crackdown that saw mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes. But the UN said some 600,000 Rohingya still live in Rakhine, and the Security Council on Wednesday reiterated the need “to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine”. Referring to the coup and the ongoing violence, council members expressed concern about the impact of recent developments on the return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons. They encouraged diplomatic efforts to address the issues facing the Rohingya and stressed “the vital need for minority rights to be fully protected”.

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