Conflicts - TensionsSoutheast Asia

U.N. Security Council, minus the PRC and Russia, condemns Myanmar military’s killing of civilians

The Associated Press

The United Nations Security Council — minus the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia — condemned the “unrelenting violence” and killing of civilians in Myanmar and again urged the Southeast Asian nation’s military junta to stop attacks, release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and respect human rights.

Thirteen of the council’s 15 member nations in late August 2023 backed a statement that said there had been “insufficient progress” on implementing the first Security Council resolution on Myanmar that was adopted in December 2022. The PRC and Russia, which have ties to the military that seized power from the elected civilian government in February 2021, abstained along with India in that 12-0 vote.

The statement reiterated demands from the December 2022 resolution that still require implementation: the immediate release of all “arbitrarily detained” prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint; restoring democratic institutions; respecting human rights and “the democratic will of the people,” and upholding the rule of law.

It also called for full implementation of the peace plan by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations that Myanmar’s military rulers agreed to in April 2021 but have not honored.

The 13 council members said the military’s actions have left more than 18 million people in Myanmar in need of humanitarian assistance — over 15 million of them without regular access to adequate food — and 2 million people displaced.

At the council meeting, diplomats discussed a report by U.N. independent investigators who said Myanmar’s military and affiliated militias are committing increasingly frequent and brazen war crimes.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, established in 2018 by the U.N. Human Rights Council, said it also found strong evidence of indiscriminate and disproportionate targeting of civilians with bombs, mass executions of people detained during military operations and large-scale burning of homes.

“Our evidence points to a dramatic increase in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, with widespread and systematic attacks against civilians, and we are building case files that can be used by courts to hold individual perpetrators responsible,” head investigator Nicholas Koumjian said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield cited the group’s report in a statement, saying “the regime’s horrific atrocities must stop.”

Myanmar’s U.N.-accredited ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, who represented the civilian government, urged the council to adopt a resolution banning the supply of weapons, jet fuel and financing to the military.

The U.S. announced sanctions in late August 2023 against two individuals and three organizations involved in the procurement and distribution of jet fuel to Myanmar’s military, which is increasingly using airstrikes against pro-democracy forces, killing and displacing civilians.

A U.S. Treasury Department statement cited airstrikes in the Sagaing region in April and June 2023 that killed at least 90 people. The statement said the military is estimated to have killed over 3,900 civilians since the coup.

The sanctions were the latest in a series of penalties imposed on the military by the U.S., including on Myanmar’s Defense Ministry and two state-owned banks to prevent transactions through financial institutions involving U.S. dollars.

More than 100 people are seen at a shelter at the Thai border in April 2023 after fighting between Myanmar’s military and rebels. VIDEO CREDIT: AFPTV/GETTY IMAGES

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