The UN Secretary General renewed an urgent call for the international community on Thursday (7/9) to seek a unified strategy to end the worsening crisis in Myanmar.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said declining financial aid must be increased to previous levels to allow the world body to respond to a “major tragedy.” He said the situation in Myanmar had worsened since he met ASEAN leaders at a 2022 summit, and again called on the military-led government in the crisis-hit country to immediately release all political prisoners and open the door to a return to democratic rule.
Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1, 2021, from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, arresting her and key members of her ruling National League for Democracy (LND) party, which had won a landslide victory for a new term in the November 2020 elections.
Security forces suppressed widespread opposition to the military takeover with lethal force, killing thousands of civilians and arresting thousands more involved in nonviolent protests. This cruel crackdown sparked armed resistance in most parts of the country.
Demonstrators protest against the military coup in front of anti-riot police in Yangon, Myanmar Thursday, February 18, 2021. (Photo: AP)
Guterres also reiterated his concern over other problems being exacerbated by disputes between countries. He warned that “there is a real risk of fragmentation in the world economic and financial system due to different strategies in the fields of technology and artificial intelligence and conflicting security frameworks.”
“Our world is at breaking point due to a series of crises: from the worsening climate emergency and escalating wars and conflicts, to rising poverty, widening inequality and rising geopolitical tensions,” Guterres said.
In August 2017, long-standing discrimination against Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, including denial of citizenship and other rights, came to a head when the Myanmar military launched what it called a cleansing campaign in northern Rakhine state in response to attacks. against police and border guards by a Rohingya militant group.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh, where they remain in camps, as Myanmar’s army allegedly committed mass rape and murder and burned thousands of homes.
The International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest court, ordered Myanmar in January 2020 to do all it could to prevent genocide against the Rohingya.
“I remain deeply concerned by the deteriorating political, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar, including Rakhine State and the plight of the large number of refugees living in desperate conditions,” he said.
The UN chief expressed his support for the five-point peace plan drawn up by ASEAN leaders in 2021. The plan calls for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar and the start of dialogue between the warring parties, including the ruling generals and Suu Kyi’s camp.
But ASEAN leaders acknowledged in a joint statement that their strategy had failed to achieve any progress in Myanmar.
Despite the failure, the leaders of the 10-nation bloc decided to stick to the plan and continue to bar Myanmar’s generals and appointed officials from attending the high-level ASEAN summit.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, who flew to Jakarta to attend the summit in place of President Joe Biden, told ASEAN leaders on Wednesday that Washington supported their peace plan.
“We have a shared commitment to international rules and norms as well as our partnership in addressing national and regional problems such as the crisis in Myanmar,” said Harris.
“The United States will continue to pressure the regime to end its horrific violence, release all those unjustly detained, and rebuild inclusive democracy in Myanmar,” Harris said. (ab/lt)