The UN Security Council on Friday again demanded the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the release of all detainees, including elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as it backed calls by countries Southeast Asia for an immediate end to the violence and political crisis resulting from the generals’ coup of February 1.
The Council’s press release follows a briefing by the senior UN envoy that the strong and united demand for democracy by the people of Myanmar, who have protested since the army took power, has created ” unexpected difficulties ”for the military leaders in the consolidation of power and risks bringing the administration of the nation to a standstill.
Christine Schraner Burgener, who is currently in Bangkok, told the 15 council members that her talks in Southeast Asia had “aggravated” her concern about the deteriorating situation in Myanmar across the board.
She pointed to an upsurge in fighting in ethnic areas, more poor people losing their jobs, officials refusing to work in protest against the coup and a crisis of family brewing in and around the main town of Yangon “pushed to the brink” of hunger, going into debt and trying to survive.
“The common aspiration for democracy has united the people of Myanmar across religious, ethnic and community divisions like never before,” said Schraner Burgener. “Such a strong unity created unexpected difficulties for the military in consolidating power and stabilizing the coup.”
The members of the Security Council “reiterated their deep concern at the situation in Myanmar following the declaration of a state of emergency imposed by the army on February 1 and reiterated their support for Myanmar’s democratic transition.”
The council also reiterated previous statements, including the strong condemnation of the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, calling for the restoration of democracy and the release of detainees.
Schraner Burgener attended the April 24 meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, where the group called for a immediate cessation of violence and dialogue to deal with the political crisis.
The UN envoy said she was able to speak with Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing on the sidelines of the event and again requested permission to travel to Myanmar.
They agreed “to keep the details of the exchange under wraps to allow frank and open discussions to continue,” she said, but assured the board she was “amplifying” the statements her 15 members had. approved.
Schraner Burgener has repeatedly asked to travel to Myanmar – where the generals detained Aung San Suu Kyi and members of his elected government before taking power three months ago – but the military has yet to give him its authorization.
Pro-democracy protests have taken place in towns and villages across the country since the coup.
“The general state administration could risk coming to a halt as the pro-democracy movement continues despite the continued use of lethal force, arbitrary arrests and torture as part of military repression,” said the envoy, according to diplomats.
Calls for a robust response
The Political Prisoners Assistance Association, an advocacy group that tracks arrests and deaths since the coup, said security forces killed at least 759 protesters while more than 4,500 people were being held for to have opposed the coup. Some 3,485 people remain in detention, according to the AAPP.
In a number of statements, the Security Council has strongly condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters, called for the restoration of democracy and the release of those detained.
– Wai Wai Nu (@waiwainu) April 30, 2021
People from #Burma Means @eu_eeas @ USStateDepartm2 @FCDOGovUK & @ SchranerBurgen1 who do not fall into the trap that the junta would take in @Asean5 consensus seriously. At least don’t waste your time. @Mandy_Segall @Milktea_Myanmar @NUGMyanmar @sophiacmcbride @Reaproy
– Kyaw Win (@ kyawwin78) April 30, 2021
Civil society groups have said the Security Council must agree on a stronger response.
“The military has already reneged on the flawed ‘consensus’ it has reached with ASEAN leaders, so it is essential that the international community does not view last weekend’s outcome as a legitimate path for Myanmar. “said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. a statement before the closed-door briefing.
“The Security Council must remain focused on the solutions long demanded by the people of Myanmar, especially women-led civil society groups, including a global arms embargo, targeted sanctions and referral to justice. International Penal Court. It is unacceptable that the Council has not yet acted and it cannot shirk its responsibility to do so because others, like ASEAN, have “acted”. “
The army, which ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years, until it took preliminary steps towards democracy ten years ago, admitted that some protesters had been killed but accused them of having initiated the violence.
Schraner Burgener said there was worrying information that civilians, mostly students from urban areas, were being trained in the use of weapons by ethnic armed groups in border areas.
“In the absence of a collective international response, there has been an increase in violence and reported cases of the use of improvised explosive devices,” she said, according to diplomats.
The United Nations estimates that around 20,000 people have fled their homes and remain internally displaced in Myanmar, while nearly 10,000 have fled to neighboring countries, the UN envoy said.
The World Food Program has said pre-existing poverty, COVID-19 and the political crisis will likely lead to an additional 3.4 million people hungry over the next six months, while UNDP has warned that nearly half of Myanmar’s population could be plunged into poverty next year.