The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on Myanmar’s ruling military junta to release all political prisoners, including ousted State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint, in its first-ever resolution passed on the Southeast Asian country since its independence.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2669 on Myanmar expressed “deep concern over the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military” and stressed the need to address several longstanding issues. He also called for increased humanitarian assistance for victims of violence, with an emphasis on women, children and displaced populations, including the Rohingya, a persecuted majority Muslim minority.
comes the act almost two years after the military carried out a violent coupoverthrowing the democratically elected government and arresting civilian leaders, including Suu Kyi.
Freedoms and rights in Myanmar under the military board have deteriorated significantly. State executions have returned, Thousands people have been arrested for protesting against the military regime, and the number of documented violent attacks by the army on civilian areas, including schools, has increased, according to non-governmental organizations. The junta claims it is fighting what it calls “terrorists” and promises a return to peace.
Wednesday’s resolution was proposed by Britain and passed with 12 votes in favour, none against, with three abstentions from China, India and Russia.
Suu Kyi is currently being held in solitary confinement in a prison in the capital, Naypyidaw, on a range of charges. To date, the 77-year-old former Nobel Peace Prize winner has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, including three years of hard labor. The convictions, which critics and international observers say are politically motivated, mostly relate to the November 2020 general election that his National League for Democracy won in a landslide, defeating a military-created party.
In a statement Wednesday, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States applauded the Security Council for adopting the resolution. “With this resolution, the international community demands that the Burmese military regime cease its horrifying violence, immediately release arbitrarily detainees, allow unimpeded humanitarian access and protect minority groups,” she said, referring to Myanmar by name. older.
But he said it “represents only one step towards ending the bloodshed. Much more must be done”, adding that the United Nations Security Council must “promote accountability for the atrocities and abuses of Burma’s military regime”.
“Since the junta violently seized power in February 2021, they have carried out a brutal campaign against the people of Myanmar: burning villages, carrying out indiscriminate airstrikes, torturing and mass murder,” said the British ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, in a statement. .
“This resolution sends a clear message: the Security Council is deeply concerned about what is happening in Myanmar at the hands of the military and the so-called ‘state of emergency’ imposed to suppress the people’s calls for peace and democracy,” added. .”
The news received a mixed response from human rights groups calling for more action.
The president of the Center for Global Justice, Akila Radhakrishnan, responded to the efforts of the United Nations Security Council, calling them a “missed opportunity for stronger action”, but reiterated the urgent need to devise a better plan of action. .
“[W]We cannot deny that Council members missed the opportunity to take stronger action. Most importantly, they did not create a mechanism to regularly report on the situation in Myanmar. This is a crisis that is continually evolving and deepening. Therefore, it is urgent that the members of the Council treat this resolution as a first step to develop a comprehensive and continuous plan of action.
Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the “resolution is a momentous step on behalf of the Myanmar people, opening the door to hold Myanmar’s brutal generals to account.”
Pearson added that “the resolution should bring renewed scrutiny to the junta’s daily atrocities and recognition of the Myanmar people’s courageous efforts towards democracy and freedom.”