Security Council due to meet today on the situation in Myanmar

(BANGKOK, January 28, 2021)—The U.N. Security Council should urgently pass a global arms embargo to prohibit the sale of weapons and dual-use technology to the Myanmar military junta, said Fortify Rights today. The U.N. Security Council is expected to convene today in a private meeting on the situation in Myanmar.

“The situation throughout Myanmar right now is dire,” said Ismail Wolff, Regional Director at Fortify Rights. “There’s no defensible reason to sell weapons to the junta as it attacks civilians with impunity. The Security Council should finally take action and vote on a resolution that would mandate an arms embargo. Any failure to do so at this point amounts to complicity.”

The primary responsibility of the U.N. Security Council is the maintenance of international peace and security. Military coups, humanitarian emergencies, cross-border refugee crises, extreme repression of civilian populations, and failures to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable can all constitute “threats to the peace.”

Since launching a coup d’état on February 1, 2021, the Myanmar junta has killed more than 1,400 people and arrested more than 11,000, with over 8,000 currently in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The crimes currently being perpetrated against the people of Myanmar fit with the Myanmar military’s long history of atrocity crimes, including the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, and decades of abuse against the country’s other ethnic minorities, said Fortify Rights.

Since February 1, in addition to killing peaceful protesters, the military has launched offensives in several ethnic states. It has deployed heavy artillery and airstrikes, particularly in Karen, Kachin, and Karenni states, killing and injuring civilians and nationwide displacing more than an estimated 320,000 people between February and December 2021, according to the U.N. This is in addition to an estimated 340,000 people internally displaced before the coup.

The International Criminal Court is investigating the forced deportation and related crimes committed against the Rohingya population, and The Gambia is suing Myanmar at the International Court of Justice for failing to uphold its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

In November 2021, Fortify Rights published a 31-page flash report, entitled Access Denied: The Myanmar Military Junta’s Deprivation of Lifesaving Aid in Karenni (Kayah) State detailing how the Myanmar junta blocked life-saving humanitarian aid to displaced civilians, arbitrarily detained aid workers, destroyed food stocks, confiscated aid, and committed other acts that may constitute war crimes.

Since the coup, the U.N. Security Council has issued four press statements and one Presidential Statement expressing various levels of condemnation of violence and atrocities in Myanmar, with no discernable effect. The junta has flouted the Security Council’s statements, providing a context for heightened action by the body, said Fortify Rights.

While the Security Council continues to drag its feet, the Myanmar military is becoming increasingly brazen, fueled by its own impunity,” said Ismail Wolff. “Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his heinous regime must be stripped of access to the weaponry they are using against the civilian population. Statements are not enough.”

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