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UN: Urgent Action Needed to Restore Peace and Democracy in Myanmar


FILE - A school bag lies next to dried blood stains on the floor of a middle school in Let Yet Kone village in Tabayin township in the Sagaing region of Myanmar, Sept. 17, 2022, the day after an air strike hit the school.

Myanmar’s human rights situation has been on a downward spiral since the military junta mounted a coup February 1, 2021. A new report finds military attacks in ethnic regions have increased, with civilians and civilian infrastructure targeted.

The U.N. human rights office reports as many as 30,000 residential buildings, schools, other civilian infrastructure, and even whole villages have been burnt to the ground.

Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif says more than 2,300 people, including at least 188 children have been killed. Additionally, she says more than a million people have fled their homes and are living in precarious conditions. She says they lack food, medical care, and other basic services.

“The humanitarian crisis now brings fears of starvation, with the military largely denying humanitarian access, including recent orders to halt humanitarian operations in [the] northern and central Rakhine State. Over 15,607 people have been arrested with some 12,464 remaining in detention,” said Al-Nashif.

She says people in prison are subject to physical abuse, ill-treatment, and torture, sometimes resulting in death. She says her office has received information about 111 cases of what appears to be summary executions. She adds the death toll of people in custody is steadily rising.

Al-Nashif notes the relative stability experienced in the Rakhine State since the start of the coup has proved short-lived. She says minority communities, especially Rohingya and Kaman Muslims are particularly vulnerable.

“My office has received reports of killings, injuries, arbitrary detention, and mass displacement of civilians resulting from clashes between the Myanmar military and the Arakan army in several townships of Rakhine and Chin State and along the border with reported cases of shelling into Bangladesh,” Al-Nashif said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in August 2017 to escape discrimination and persecution in Myanmar.

Al-Nashif says diplomatic efforts have failed to turn around this catastrophic situation. She says ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must reinvigorate its efforts to promote a resolution to the crisis.

She repeats previous calls to the military to cease violence, to impose a moratorium on executions, and to free all political prisoners. Her appeal, as in the past, has fallen on deaf ears.

The U.N. Acting High Commissioner has received no response from Myanmar’s military leaders to her plea.

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