UN Human Rights Council urged to impose sanctions vs. Myanmar military


The UN rights investigator for Myanmar told a special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, “growing reports and photographic evidence” showed that security forces have used live ammunition against protesters, in violation of international law.

Special Rapporteur Thomas Andrews urged the UN Security Council to consider imposing sanctions and arms embargoes as a UN rights body adopted a resolution calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

“Security Council resolutions dealing with similar situations have mandated sanctions, arms embargoes, and travel bans, and calling for judicial action at the International Criminal Court or ad hoc tribunals,” Andrews told the Council. “All of these options should be on the table.”

The 47-member forum met at the request of Britain and the European Union to consider a resolution calling for the release of ousted Myanmar leader Suu Kyi, and for UN monitors to be allowed to visit. It was adopted unanimously, although Myanmar, Russia and China envoys said they “disassociated” themselves from the resolution.

“With this resolution we would like to send a strong signal to the people of Myanmar: the protection of their human rights matters to us,” said Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger on behalf of the EU.

However, the resolution’s language had been watered down somewhat in an apparent bid to get detractors on board.

China and Russia – which have close ties to Myanmar’s military – said they opposed holding the session at all.

“What happened in Myanmar is essentially Myanmar’s internal affairs,” said Chen Xu, China’s ambassador.

Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said: “Attempts to whip up hype around the situation in Myanmar need to cease.”

The United States meanwhile, which imposed its own sanctions targeting Myanmar’s military on Thursday, took the floor at the Human Rights Council to urge other UN member states to follow suit.

US Chargé d’Affaires Mark Cassayre said: “We ask all Council members to join the United States and others … in promoting accountability for those responsible for the coup, including through targeted sanctions.”

Supporters of Suu Kyi clashed with police on Friday as hundreds of thousands joined nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations in defiance of the military’s call to halt mass gatherings.

More than 350 officials, activists, journalists, monks and students have been detained, according to Nada al-Nashif, deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Myanmar Ambassador Myint Thu said Myanmar would continue to cooperate with the United Nations and uphold international human rights treaties, adding: “We do not want to stall the nascent democratic transition in the country.” (Source: CNA)