The UN envoy to Myanmar on Wednesday pleaded with the Security Council to take action amid a growing crisis in the Southeast Asian nation, warning of the risk of civil war and a “bath of looming blood ”amid a violent crackdown on protests left hundreds dead.
Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed-door meeting of the 15-member council that the generals who took power on February 1 were unable to run the country, and warned that the situation on the ground would only make only get worse, according to comments shared with reporters.
“Consider all the tools available to take collective action and do what is right, what the people of Myanmar deserve and avoid a multidimensional disaster in the heart of Asia,” she said.
The council must consider “potentially significant action” to turn the tide of events, because “a bloodbath is imminent”, underlined Schraner Burgener.
At least 536 civilians have been killed in protests since the military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power on February 1, according to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group. which tracks detentions and deaths. Some 141 were killed on Saturday, bloodiest day of unrest so far.
The military has also stepped up its activities in ethnic minority areas along the country’s borders where it has been fighting armed groups for decades. On Saturday it carried out its first air raids on East Karen State for 20 years, sending thousands fleeing the border to Thailand.
The UK has called for the Security Council to meet in response to escalating violence.
“These violent actions by the military are totally unacceptable and require a strong message from the international community,” UK Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward said during a virtual press briefing after the session. advice.
The Security Council “should play its part” in an international response, she added.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, noted that the U.S. has already imposed targeted sanctions, expanded temporary protection to the Burmese in the United States and increased assistance to civil society.
The United States would do more, she promised in a series of Twitter posts, and urged others to do the same.
“We also need our allies and regional partners to do more,” she said. “We need additional pressure to stop the violence and respect the will of the people, especially from Burma’s neighbors. And it’s time for the military’s economic partners, including those who help generals and their families, take a close look at these relationships.
The council has so far issued two statements expressing concern and condemning violence against protesters, but abandoned language condemning the military takeover as a coup and threatening possible further action in the face of opposition from China, Russia, India and Vietnam.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun told the session that China is working with “all parties” in Myanmar to reduce tensions, but has ruled out sanctions.
“Unilateral pressure and a call for sanctions or other coercive measures will only worsen tensions and confrontation and further complicate the situation, which is by no means constructive,” he said. , according to remarks provided by the UN mission in China.
The session came after Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team said earlier Wednesday that the deposed leader appeared to be in good health despite two months in detention.
The 75-year-old has not been seen in public since her impeachment, but a member of her legal team, Min Min Soe, was summoned to a police station in the capital Naypyidaw for a video conference with her.
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy was fired in a landslide in November elections, faces a number of criminal charges and her conviction could see her expelled from office for life .
The generals claimed the election was fraudulent and used the allegation to justify their coup. The Election Commission found no evidence of wrongdoing.
A group of NLD lawmakers, who worked underground against the generals, said they would form “a new civilian government” in the first week of April, without giving further details.
The growing death toll appears to be drawing around 20 of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups, which control large swathes of land on the outskirts of the country.
On Wednesday, three of them – the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Democratic Alliance of Burmese Nationalities Army and the Rakhine Army – seemed ready to join the protesters fight.
TNLA Brigadier General Tar Bhone Kyaw told AFP news agency that the three groups would end their ceasefire with the military.
“If they keep killing people, we have no reason to extend a unilateral ceasefire with them,” he said.
Two other groups – the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – have already stepped up their attacks on the army and police in recent days.