UN Human Rights Office on Sunday (28 Feb) strongly condemned the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar as it called on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protestors.
According to credible information received by the organisation, the Myanmar police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations in several locations throughout the country on Sunday, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded.
Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago, and Pokokku. Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations as well as flash-bang and stun grenades, it noted.
“The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy. These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.
“Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms,” she added.
Since the beginning of the coup d’état in Myanmar on 1 February, the Myanmar police and security forces have targeted an ever-increasing number of opposition voices and demonstrators by arresting political officials, activists, civil society members, journalists, and medical professionals.
On Sunday alone, the police is said to have detained at least 85 medical professionals and students, as well as seven journalists, who were present at the demonstrations.
Additionally, over 1,000 individuals have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in the last month – some of whom remain unaccounted for – mostly without any form of due process, simply for exercising their human rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly.
In its statement on Sunday, the UN Human Rights Office reiterated its call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained, including members of the democratically elected government.
“The international community must stand in solidarity with the protestors and all those seeking a return to democracy in Myanmar,” said the organisation.