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  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

Mass Atrocities in Myanmar

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Human rights violations in Myanmar have risen detrimentally after the military coup seized power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021. The coup d’état took place after the military junta, without evidence, accused the Nobel Laureate’s party of election fraud. The Asian Network for Free Elections, an independent NGO that promotes democratic elections in Asia, disputes this allegation and claims that the results were ‘by and large representative of the will of the people of Myanmar’.1


In response to the military coup, civilians demonstrated their outrage with mostly peaceful and nonviolent protests, taking the stand that they refuse to acknowledge the military government’s legitimacy.

Meanwhile, deposed legislators, activists, and ethnic minority representatives have grouped together and formed the National Unity Government, starting a ‘people’s defensive war’ against the military.2


Taking action against the growing resistance, the military enforced internet and media blackouts, the spread of misinformation, declaring martial law, as well as the use of force and arrests of protestors, government officials, journalists, activists, even children. Along the way, they have committed crimes against humanity entailing murder, enforced disappearances, torture, imprisonment, and rape.3 From February to November 2021, the military security forces have killed at least 1,200 citizens, including 75 children, and have arrested at least 8,700 people.4 Among the arrestees is Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the beginning of the coup, and faces fabricated charges of ‘incitement of dissent and breaking Covid-19 rules’.5 The People’s Defense Forces, an army formed by the National Unity Government to protect civilians, have unlawfully bombed public spaces to target military security forces and junta supporters. In retaliation, the military has attacked civilians and destroyed urban centers and rural areas.


On November 10th, 2021, the UN Security Council gave an official statement regarding the Myanmar atrocities, calling for ‘an immediate cessation of violence and to ensure the safety of civilians.’6 Human Rights Watch has also affirmed that the UN and other prevalent bodies need to pressure the military to allow emergency aid for civilians in need. 7 While the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that ‘calls upon all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar,’ the resolution was not binding.8


The ongoing political struggle, along with Covid-19 still being prevalent, has fed into Myanmar’s deteriorating conditions. The latest UN Humanitarian Needs Overview9 from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs depicts that Myanmars continue to face ‘political, socioeconomic, human rights and humanitarian’ hardships in 2022. In short, the report estimates that 14.4 million individuals will require aid, while 25 million individuals will be in poverty. 14 out of 15 of the country’s states and regions also face the severity of acute malnutrition, classified as a critical emergency. The most detrimental threats include price inflation for food and basic supplies, low farmgate prices and torrential monsoon rains.10 Myanmar’s physical and mental well-being is impacted as well, owing to the rise of trafficking, violence and disruptive education.



 

1] Matthew Tostevin, ‘Myanmar’s election reflected people’s will, monitoring group says’ (reuters.com, May 17, 2021)

-05-17/> accessed Jan 25, 2022


2] aljazeera.com ‘Myanmar shadow government calls for uprising against military’ (aljazeera.com, September 7 2021)


3] hrw.org ‘Myanmar: Coup Leads to Crimes Against Humanity’ (hrw.org, July 31 2021)


4] hrw.org ‘World Report 2022 Myanmar’ (hrw.org, n.d.) accessed Jan 25, 2022


5] bbc.co.uk ‘Aung San Suu Kyi: Ousted Myanmar leader jailed for another four years’ (bbc.co.uk, January 10 2022)


6] Michelle Nichols, ‘U.N. Security Council urges end to Myanmar violence’ (reuters.com, November 10 2021)


7] hrw.org ‘Myanmar: Junta Blocks Lifesaving Aid’ (hrw.org, December 13 2021)


8] Michelle Nichols ‘United Nations calls for halt ofweapons to Myanmar’ (reuters.com, June 19 2021)


9] reliefweb.int ‘Myanmar 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview’ (reliefweb.int, December 2021)


10] news.un.org ‘People of Myanmar face ‘unprecedented’ crisis in 2022’ (news.un.org, December 31 2021)

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