The “weak” international response to the Tatmadaw’s violence against the anti-coup civilian movement sends “dangerous message” that the Myanmar military junta will not suffer repercussions for its actions, said the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) on Sunday (14 Mar).
The Council currently comprises Yanghee Lee, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Marzuki Darusman, former chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar; and Chris Sidoti, former member of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.
SAC-M on Sunday raised concerns on the possibility of a “lethal crackdown” by the Tatmadaw to further silence peaceful nationwide protests by the people, as well as to quash a non-violent civil disobedience movement, and to put a stop to public and private sector strikes.
Security forces and police around the country have murdered, beaten, detained, tortured and disappeared civilians, including children, in an attempt to terrorise the population into submission, said SAC-M.
As it has done in the past, the Tatmadaw seems ready to crush the civilian resistance and impose military rule on Myanmar by lethal force. The repression is steadily escalating in intensity, consistent with the strategy of the Tatmadaw in past major military offensives, or so-called “clearance operations”.
“The recent behaviour of the military and security forces is deeply disturbing, as it calls to mind the days and weeks leading up to the massive genocidal offensive against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine in 2017,” said Lee, a founding member of SAC-M.
SAC-M observed that the Myanmar junta has shut off internet access for 28 consecutive nights and revoked the licenses of the few remaining independent media outlets which had been reporting on the anti-coup protests. Soldiers have also raided the offices of media outlets, seizing servers and destroying equipment, it added.
Medical workers and ambulances responding to those injured in the protests have also been directly targeted by the security forces, said the Council.
“In recent days, soldiers have begun occupying public hospitals and universities around the country by force,” said SAC-M.
As a result of the military repression, efforts to defeat the pandemic have been severely set back and the entire country is now at serious risk of the health emergency expanding rapidly, including across the region, the Council said.
“Without immediate political intervention, a major crackdown with fatal consequences is inevitable, perhaps in the next few days,” SAC-M warned.
SAC-M consequently called for an immediate visit to Myanmar and to the South East Asia region by the United Nations Special Envoy on Myanmar or a joint visit to Myanmar by the Special Envoy and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The Special Envoy and the delegation should meet with all relevant parties in the country, including the Acting Government led by Acting Vice President Mahn Win Khaing Than, the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the Peace Process Steering Team, the Civil Disobedience Movement and General Strike Committees, ethnic political parties and organisations, trade unions, students groups and religious organisations, as well as the Tatmadaw.
“So far, the international response to the attempted coup has been weak. It is sending a dangerous message that the generals will continue to suffer no meaningful repercussions for their violent attacks on the Myanmar people.
“Last week, Myanmar civil society organisations derided the silence of United Nations agencies in Myanmar, where only 5 out of 20 programmes, agencies and departments have publicly commented on the coup,” said SAC-M.
Human rights must not become mere rhetoric again in Myanmar, as it had during genocidal “clearance operations” against the Rohingya in 2017, said the Council.
“The international community has repeatedly failed to protect the people of Myanmar from the atrocities of the Tatmadaw. It is time to end the cycle of failure and take action now in the name of our shared humanity, before history repeats itself and the world looks on once again as tragedy unfolds before our eyes,” said SAC-M.