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UN calls on ASEAN to show its teeth over Myanmar crisis

Regional bloc urged to ensure Myanmar's military keeps its commitments to end violence and open talks with all parties

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: May 12, 2021 08:37 AM GMT
UN calls on ASEAN to show its teeth over Myanmar crisis

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration against Myanmar's military coup in Dawei on May 10. (Photo: Dawei Watch/AFP)

The UN rights office has urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to react quickly and to intensify its actions to ensure Myanmar’s military leadership adheres to the commitments it made at the regional bloc’s meeting last month.

The five-point consensus at the April 24 meeting attended by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing called for an immediate cessation of violence and talks between all parties to seek a peaceful solution.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the office has called for greater international involvement to prevent the rights situation in Myanmar from deteriorating further.

The office said that May 11 marked 100 days since the military seized power and the brutal repression of protesters has continued despite all international efforts to end the violence.

“The military authorities are showing no sign of letting up in their brutal crackdown on opponents in a bid to consolidate their hold on power,” Colville said.

As of May 10, at least 782 people had been killed as security forces used unnecessary, disproportionate and lethal force to suppress demonstrations and other forms of public participation since the Feb. 1 coup, according to credible reports.

There are daily raids on private homes and offices, with more than 3,740 people in detention

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has renewed his call for the military to respect the will of the people and act in the greater interests of peace and stability.

He encouraged ASEAN to swiftly follow through on its own commitments while urging the international community to support regional efforts to bring an end to the repression by the military. He also called on the international community to respond to increased humanitarian needs.

Colville said: “While much of the world’s attention has been on the number of peaceful protesters and bystanders killed by the security forces, the authorities continue to commit other gross human rights violations against the people of Myanmar.”

There are daily raids on private homes and offices, with more than 3,740 people in detention, including many in situations that may amount to enforced disappearances, he said.

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“Of those in custody, the vast majority have not been brought before a judge, while most of the 86 people prosecuted thus far have been tried in secret with limited or no access to any form of legal counsel,” Colville added.

Over the past month, the military leadership has issued more than 1,561 arrest warrants against civil society activists, trade unionists, journalists, academics, public personalities and online voices, driving most of them underground, according to the UN office.

“To intensify pressure, the military authorities have resorted to taking relatives of wanted people into custody to force them to turn themselves in to the police,” Colville said.

In recent weeks, more than 3,000 civil servants — nearly 70 percent of them women — have been dismissed, removed or suspended by the coup leadership. Those suspended include 990 university professors, researchers and assistants.

There are reports that up to 11,000 more workers in the education sector were suspended on May 10.

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