United Nations chief condemns escalating violence in Myanmar


The UN secretary general on Sunday strongly condemned the “escalating violence” in Myanmar and called for an immediate end to the use of force, after police killed at least 18 protesters.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres said, he is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable.

Citing “credible information”, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said at least 18 people died and more than 30 were injured as police cracked down on the nationwide protest movement against the military coup which ousted the democratically elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr.Guterres urged the international community “to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression”.

The military has claimed, without evidence, that the ruling party of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – fraudulently won parliamentary elections. Arrested on 1 February, she and other leaders have remained in detention and according to news reports she is due in court on Monday.

On Friday, the UN Ambassador to Myanmar denounced the coup in a General Assembly meeting in New York, calling on the international community to take the “strongest possible measures” against the military junta to restore civilian rule. The top diplomat was reportedly fired from his post on Saturday.

“The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy,” said OHCHR spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, in a statement issued on Sunday.

“These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression.”

According to OHCHR, police and military confronted peaceful demonstrators using disproportionate force with deaths reported in the largest city Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myiek, Bago and Pokokku.

“Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations as well as flash-bang and stun grenades,” said Ms. Shamdasani.

“Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms,” she said.

“Since the beginning of the coup d’état…the 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.”

“Today alone, police have detained at least 85 medical professionals and students, as well as seven journalists, who were present at the demonstrations. 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.”

The Spokesperson reiterated OHCHR’s call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained by the military authorities, “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”, Ms. Shamdasani concluded. (Source: UN News)