By Lisa Schlein
A United Nations investigator is accusing Myanmar’s military junta of likely crimes against humanity and is urging international coordinated action to isolate and get rid of the regime. The report is under review by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Special raporteur Thomas Andrews says that since Myanmar’s military seized power from the elected government February 1, security forces have murdered at least 70 people and arbitrarily arrested more than 2,000.
He says there is video evidence of security forces viciously beating protestors, destroying property, looting shops, and firing indiscriminately into people’s homes. He says the junta has been systematically destroying legal protections and crushing freedom of expression and assembly.
Andrews notes the current leadership of what he calls a murderous, illegal regime is facing charges of genocide before the International Court of Justice. The military is accused of human rights abuses committed in Rakhine state against the mainly Muslim Rohingya minority.
“It should come as little surprise that there is growing evidence that this same Myanmar military, led by the same senior leadership, is now engaging in crimes against humanity, including the acts of murder, enforced disappearance, persecution, torture, and imprisonment in violation of fundamental rules of international law,” Andrews says.
Andrews says there is growing evidence that these acts of cruelty are part of a coordinated, systematic campaign rather than a series of isolated events. He is calling on other countries to take strong, coordinated action to stop these atrocities.
“Stop the flow of revenue into the illegal junta’s coffers. This can happen now,” Andrews says. “Multilateral sanctions should be imposed on both senior junta leaders and their major sources of revenue, including military-owned and -controlled enterprises and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.”
He notes Myanmar’s natural gas projects will generate an estimated $1 billion in revenue this year. Without sanctions, he warns, the military junta will be able to use these funds to support its criminal enterprise and attack innocent people.
Permanent secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chan Aye, says the Tatmadaw, as the military is also called, did not want to stall the nascent democratic transition in the country. However, he says, it had no choice, given, what he described as last November’s fraudulent general election. The fraud allegations have been denied by Myanmar’s electoral commission.
He says the authorities have been exercising utmost restraint in dealing with violent protests. He says his government is committed to restore and maintain the democratic transition in accordance with the existing State Constitution.