Sunday, June 23, 2024

People of Myanmar Are Trapped In A Cycle of Poverty, Displacement, And Human Rights Violations

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Michelle Bachelet said that the human rights situation in Myanmar had seen a rapid decline since February this year.

“Still suffering from the devastating consequences of the February 2021 military coup, the people of Myanmar remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and displacement, human rights violations and abuses,” said Bachelet.

Bachelet noted the systematic and widespread use of tactics against civilians and compelling evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“Since February 2021, at least 1,900 killings by the military have been reported. The humanitarian situation is dire. One million individuals have been registered by the UN as internally displaced while some 14 million remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” said Bachelet.

“The military coup has crippled Myanmar’s economy, with millions losing their jobs or sources of income in the last year. The value of the national currency has plummeted, and prices of essential goods have surged.”

The junta has severely limited information flows and civic space through Internet shutdowns imposed by the military across large parts of the country and the harassment and prosecution of journalists and individuals reporting on human rights. “Nevertheless, my Office continues to monitor and document the scale and magnitude of violations on the ground.”

Bachelet said that despite the commitments made by the military to ASEAN, repression and violence in Myanmar have intensified. Recent military operations in the south-eastern states of Kayin and Kayah, the north-western state of Chin, and the central regions of Sagaing and Magway have amplified the suffering of civilians. There are no safeguards to protect civilians or respect for international human rights and humanitarian laws by the military.

“A well-documented tactic of the military is the burning of entire villages, residential buildings, schools, houses of worship, and other objects specially protected under international humanitarian law. Some estimate over 11,000 such sites have been burned since the attempted coup began last year,” said Bachelet. Local residents are often detained, and in some cases, may have been forcibly disappeared or used as human shields. Food stocks and other essential supplies have also been destroyed.

Bachelet expressed concern about reports indicating that the junta is trying to militarize entire communities by expanding its allied local militia organizations and formalizing military control of police forces. UNHCR has also received reports that they have launched an initiative to enlist local firefighters, Red Cross workers, and other public service groups into the security apparatus.

“In the face of such repression and violence, I respect the strength and resolve of Myanmar’s people, who continue to reject and resist the military and their attempts to assert control. Daily peaceful protests throughout the country and efforts to boycott services provided by military-run governmental institutions remain ongoing after almost 500 days,” said Bachelet.

She urged all Member States, especially those with the highest-level access and influence, to intensify their pressure on the military leadership. “Available measures include placing increased restrictions targeting military-controlled financial holdings and business interests, and limiting their access to foreign currencies to restrict their ability to purchase military equipment and supplies.”

She called for continued support to the efforts underway to pursue accountability for the ongoing and past serious human rights violations, as well as alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, through all available tracks.

Bachelet cautioned that Myanmar’s future depends on addressing the root causes of this crisis. “Its people deserve a return to democracy, an end to impunity, and the immediate cessation of the systemic discrimination that has persecuted minorities.”

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