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UN Security Council Demands Military in Myanmar End Violence Immediately

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UN Security Council Demands Military in Myanmar End Violence Immediately

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution on Myanmar, calling for an immediate end to violence and urged its military rulers to release all “arbitrarily detained” prisoners, including former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The resolution reaffirmed the 15-member council’s call for the country to uphold democratic institutions and human rights. The council voted 12-0, with China, Russia, and India abstaining.

According to the United Kingdom, which drafted the resolution, it is the first adopted by the United Nations’ most powerful body since the country formerly known as Burma joined the UN in 1948.

Before Wednesday’s vote, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “extremely concerned” about Myanmar’s deteriorating humanitarian situation and human rights.

“Any opportunity for the Security Council to speak with one strong, united voice on any issue, particularly Myanmar,” Dujarric said.

Myanmar had been under strict military rule for five decades, leading to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals’ grip loosened, culminating in Suu Kyi’s election to the presidency in 2015, the international community responded by lifting most sanctions and pouring money into the country.

Civil War in Myanmar

That came to an end with the military’s coup on February 1, 2021, following the November 2020 elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won overwhelmingly and the military called fraudulent.

The takeover was met with widespread public opposition, which has since escalated into armed resistance that some United Nations experts have labeled civil war.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights monitoring organization, over 16,000 people have been detained in Myanmar on political charges since the army took over. More than 13,000 of those arrested were still being held. According to the association, at least 2,465 civilians have been killed since the takeover in 2021, though the figure is likely much higher.

Much of the international community, including Myanmar’s peers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has expressed dissatisfaction with the generals’ stance on reform. Myanmar’s rulers agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan to restore peace and stability in the country in April 2021, but the military has made little effort to put the plan into action.

Aung San Suu Kyi locked away

The plan calls for an immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue between all parties involved, mediation of the dialogue process by an ASEAN special envoy, the provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels, and a visit to Myanmar by the association’s special envoy to meet with all parties involved.

Both the current United Nations Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer and the ASEAN Special Envoy Prak Sokhonn, a Cambodian minister, have visited Myanmar, but neither has been allowed to meet with Suu Kyi.

The draft resolution “acknowledges ASEAN’s central role in assisting in the peaceful resolution of the Myanmar crisis” and urges the international community to support ASEAN’s efforts, including the implementation of the five-point consensus.

The draft calls for “concrete and immediate actions” to “effectively and fully” implement the plan, citing the Myanmar military’s commitment to ASEAN leaders in April 2021 to support the five-point consensus.

It calls on all parties in Myanmar to collaborate with UN and ASEAN envoys to begin a dialogue aimed at peacefully resolving the country’s crisis.

The resolution also expresses “deep concern” about the military-imposed state of emergency, the arrests of Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint, who should be released immediately, and the “increasingly large number of internally displaced persons and dramatic increase in humanitarian need.” It reiterates the council’s condemnation of the activists’ execution in July.

The resolution emphasizes the importance of “a peaceful, genuine, and inclusive process to de-escalate violence and reach a long-term political solution.”

It also emphasizes the importance of addressing the crisis in Rakhine state and creating conditions for the return of ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims, the majority of whom were driven out by the Buddhist-majority country’s military crackdown in August 2018. 700,000 people are still living as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh, while others are still displaced in Myanmar.

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