UN human rights investigator calls for tough sanctions on Myanmar | Myanmar News


The United Nations human rights investigator on Myanmar said Thursday that the military there had murdered, beaten and illegally arrested protesters since taking power in a February 1 coup and have called for large-scale punitive sanctions.

Thomas Andrews urged the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions on military leaders and to refer the alleged atrocities to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

States should impose sanctions on Myanmar’s oil and gas company, now controlled by the military and its main source of revenue, he said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UNSC is due to discuss the situation on Friday in a closed-door meeting.

Police cut off protests

The UN investigator’s statement came after police disrupted protests with tear gas and gunfire in several towns in Myanmar.

Protesters returned to the streets undeterred by the bloodiest day yet in a crackdown on opponents of last month’s military coup.

The UN said 38 people were killed in Wednesday’s protests, far more than the 23 who were said to have been killed until March 1.

The military seized power alleging fraud in an election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party last November. The military has defended measures to quell the protests and said it will not allow Myanmar’s stability to be threatened.

Activists said they refused to accept the military regime and the new elections it promised, expressing determination to push for the release of inmate Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, and recognition of her electoral victory.

“We know we can still be shot and killed with live ammunition, but there is no sense in staying alive under the junta,” activist Maung Saungkha told Reuters news agency.

Police opened fire and used tear gas to interrupt protests in Yangon and the central town of Monywa, witnesses said. They also opened fire in the town of Pathein, west of Yangon, and used tear gas in Taunggyi, to the east, media reported.

Large crowds have gathered peacefully for rallies elsewhere, including in Mandalay Second City and the historic temple city of Bagan, where hundreds marched carrying photos of Aung San Suu Kyi and a banner saying : “Free our leader,” witnesses said.

A spokesperson for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on the security forces to end what she called their “brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.”

She said more than 1,700 people had been arrested, including 29 journalists.

“The Myanmar military must stop killing and imprisoning protesters,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Continued violence

Meanwhile, hundreds of people attended the funeral of a 19-year-old woman shot dead in Mandalay on Wednesday, who was pictured wearing a t-shirt that read “Everything will be fine”. After his death, the slogan went viral as a symbol of challenge.

Police and soldiers fired live ammunition without warning in several towns and villages on Wednesday, witnesses said.

“Myanmar’s security forces now appear determined to break the back of the anti-coup movement with wanton violence and outright brutality,” said Richard Weir, researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said in a statement that flags will fly at half mast in its offices to commemorate the dead.

International condemnation

The US State Department said Washington was “appalled” by the violence and was assessing how to respond.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he was horrified by the escalating violence and the killing of protesters.

The European Union has suspended support for development projects to avoid providing financial assistance to the military, officials said on Thursday. Aid in recent years has involved more than 200 million euros ($ 240.7 million) in separate programs that often last four years.

Myanmar generals have long ignored external pressures.

The United States has told China, which has refused to condemn the coup, that it expects it to play a constructive role. China has said stability is a top priority for its strategic neighbor.

At least 19 Burmese police have entered India fearing persecution for disobeying orders, a senior Indian police official told Reuters.





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