Fortify Rights, an advocacy group, filed a complaint with the German Office of the Federal Prosecutor last week, accusing the Myanmar military of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Since the 2020 Myanmar general election, the Burmese military launched a coup and seized control of the country. This was done in response to election results, which showed a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
Numerous arrests and detentions of those supporting the anti-coup movement have taken place, leaving over 13,000 still detained at the end of the year. Security forces and military-backed militias have committed numerous human rights violations, including deliberate killings of civilians, targeted killings of NLD and pro-democracy activists, and burning of homes with nearly 3,000 people killed, 1.5 million internally displaced, and 13,000 detained in inhumane conditions. The OHCHR has reported that 382 children have been killed, 266 from raids and arrests, and 111 cases of victims burned alive or extrajudicial killings. The UN Security Council has called for an end to the violence, and the release of political prisoners, yet the military junta has continued its violent crackdown, resulting in more than 1,719 civilian deaths and the execution of four activists.
The Burmese Military have prevented much-needed humanitarian aid from reaching those in need, violating international humanitarian law. Security forces have imposed restrictions on humanitarian personnel, blocked access to roads, threatened aid workers, cut off telecom services, and confiscated food and medical supplies. Humanitarian staff risk being intimidated, imprisoned, regularly encounter landmines, and face broken supply chains, higher prices, or food scarcity. Amnesty International has called for increased aid to civilians in eastern Myanmar and an end to military constraints on aid delivery.
The Myanmar military has perpetrated atrocities against ethnic minority populations, resulting in casualties and a deteriorating economy. The Burmese military is carrying out indiscriminate air attacks on the civilian population. This is part of a campaign to ethnically cleanse the region of its Rohingya Muslim minority, who have been denied citizenship by the Burmese government. The attacks have resulted in hundreds of deaths and displaced thousands of people.
The UN-backed Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) reported that crimes against humanity continue to be committed in Myanmar, and the US, UK, Canada, and European Union imposed sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the junta. The sanctions are intended to put pressure on the junta and to show that the international community is serious about holding them accountable for their actions.
Amnesty International has shown its support through protests, vigils and events to show solidarity with the people of Myanmar and demonstrate that they are not alone in their struggle. The National Unity Government has urged all citizens to stand against the military’s oppressive rule and fight for their rights. This is in response to the military’s arresting and torturing protesters, shutting down internet access, and suppressing freedom of speech and assembly. The government believes that if citizens remain united in their fight for their rights, they can stop the military’s oppressive rule.
Resolutions condemning Myanmar military rights violations were adopted by the European Parliament, ASEAN, UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council, and General Assembly. Three foreign companies, including Puma Energy, left Myanmar in October, terminating or suspending their aviation fuel supplies. Their departures were cited because of the ongoing human rights crisis, as they no longer wanted to be associated with regimes that perpetrate such atrocities. In this case, the international community holds oppressive governments accountable for their actions.
Despite sanctions from Western countries and pressure from neighbours in Southeast Asia, diplomatic attempts haven’t succeeded. The sanctions have weakened the economy and caused a humanitarian crisis, and the government has yet to make any real concessions to its opponents. In addition, regional neighbours have failed to exert pressure on the government. The UN Security Council should act with an arms embargo and referral to the International Criminal Court. This will show that the international community will not tolerate human rights violations. Furthermore, an arms embargo would limit the military’s power and capacity to continue its violent campaign against the civilian population.
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