UN Leads International Condemnation of Bloody Crackdowns in Myanmar

By NYEIN NYEIN 1 March 2021

The UN, Japan, Canada and the European Union have strongly condemned the Myanmar military’s bloody crackdowns on civilians participating in anti-regime protests on the weekend.

Myanmar police and soldiers shot dead at least 18 people during the Sunday crackdowns against peaceful protesters across the country, according to the OHCHR, the UN’s human rights office. Since the military seized power from the country’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1, exactly a month ago, it has detained more than 1,000 people.

World leaders expressed deep concern about Myanmar’s current situation and called on the military to immediately halt its use of force against civilians and respect their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

They also urged the international community to unite in condemning the military’s violent actions.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement on Sunday that Guterres “strongly condemns” the violent crackdowns in Myanmar.

“He is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable,” Dujarric said.

He said Guterres urged the international community “to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression.”

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement on Sunday that “Use of lethal force against nonviolent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms. Since the beginning of the coup d’état… the police and security forces have targeted an ever-increasing number of opposition voices and demonstrators by arresting political officials, activists, civil society members, journalists and medical professionals.”

The OHCHR spokesperson urged the military to respect Myanmar people’s right to peaceful assembly in order to call for the restoration of democracy, adding that they must not be “met with violent and bloody repression.”

The UN also reiterated its call for the international community to stand in solidarity with the Myanmar people who are opposing the coup, and to restore democracy in the country.

On Friday, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, U Kyaw Moe Tun, denounced the coup at an informal General Assembly meeting in New York, calling on the international community to take the “strongest possible measures” against the military in order to restore civilian rule.

The regime fired him from his post on Saturday. However, the UN does not officially recognize the regime as Myanmar’s new government, according to a Reuters report citing a UN official. The ambassador is still in his position for now, according to Reuters.

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group formed by lawmakers elected to Parliament in Myanmar’s Nov. 8 general election, also said U Kyaw Moe Tun is still in his position on behalf of the elected government. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw is Myanmar’s Parliament, which was denied the opportunity to meet by the coup.

In Asia, only Japan, Myanmar’s closest friend, has come out to publicly denounce the military’s weekend crackdowns.

Japanese Press Secretary Yoshida Tomoyuki said in a statement on Sunday, “The government of Japan strongly condemns the violence against civilians, which has been continuing despite repeated calls by the international community.”

Sharing the concerns of the UN and Japan, Marc Garneau, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, said, “We call on the international community to unite in condemning these violent acts.”

He added, “Those responsible for this violence will be held to account, and Canada will consider additional measures in response. We stand with the people of Myanmar.”

The EU said it stood with the “people of Myanmar, who are defending their democracy,” and vowed that the bloc would “take measures in response to these developments shortly.”

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said, “In shooting against unarmed citizens, the security forces have shown a blatant disregard for international law, and must be held to account.”

The US, the UK and Canada have imposed targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s military leaders, including coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his subordinates.

Following reports of the Bloody Sunday crackdown, the USAustralian and Indian embassies in Yangon expressed sadness at the lives lost in Myanmar.