The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated that the situation in Myanmar has evolved from a political crisis in early February to a “multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe”.
Michelle Bachelet warned that the coup by the Myanmar military has ‘rapidly morphed’ into an all-out attack against the civilian population that has become increasingly widespread and systematic.
Speaking at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, Bachelet said that “suffering and violence throughout the country are devastating prospects for sustainable development and raise the possibility of State failure or a broader civil war”.
Since the coup on February 01, nearly 900 people have been killed while around 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of violent military raids on neighbourhoods and villages.
Ms. Bachelet explained that the catastrophic developments since February have had a severe and wide-ranging impact on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development.
“They are generating clear potential for massive insecurity, with fallout for the wider region,” she said.
The UN High Commissioner urged the international community to stand united in pressuring the military to halt its continuing attacks on the people of Myanmar and return the country to democracy, reflecting the ‘clear will of the people’.
She said the UN system must not fail the country a second time,” she added, citing the 2019 review of UN action in the country, by Gert Rosenthal.
She also advised swift action to restore a working democracy before the human rights situation in the country deteriorates further.
“This should be reinforced by Security Council action. I urge all States to act immediately to give effect to the General Assembly’s call to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar,” Ms. Bachelet said.
Ms. Bachelet said Covid has had a ‘disastrous’ impact on an economy that relied on remittances, the garment industry and other sectors which have been devastated by the resultant global recession.
UN Agencies estimate that over 6 million people are severely in need of food aid and forecast that nearly half the population could fall into poverty by early 2022.
“A void has been opened for the most harmful – and criminal – forms of illicit economy to flourish,” she underscored.
Meanwhile, a countrywide general strike, combined with the widespread dismissal of civil servants – including educators and medical personnel – has cut off many essential services in the country.
Since 1 February 01, at least 240 attacks on health-care facilities, medical personnel, ambulances and patients have disabled Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccination.
She denounced indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, civilian killings and mass displacement. Civil voices are also being silenced: over 90 journalists have been arrested and eight major media outlets shuttered.
“We have also received multiple reports of enforced disappearances; brutal torture and deaths in custody; and the arrest of relatives or children in lieu of the person being sought,” she said.
Despite the repression, the UN High Commissioner indicated that the military leadership has not successfully secured control of Myanmar, nor won the international recognition it seeks.
“On the contrary, its brutal tactics have triggered a national uprising that has changed the political equation,” she said.
She added that people across the country continue peaceful protests despite the massive use of lethal force, including heavy weaponry, and a ‘civil disobedience movement has brought many military-controlled government structures to a standstill’.
Some people, in many parts of Myanmar, have taken up arms and formed self-protection groups. These newly formed groups have launched attacks in several locations, to which the security forces have responded with disproportionate force, she noted. (Source: UN News)