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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Uphold the 'Responsibility to Protect' principle against Myanmar

NewSTRAITSTIMES

March 18, 2021


Demonstrators gather along barricades during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar. -EPA pic

LETTER: The continued mass killing of civilians by the Myanmar security forces requires firm and quick action by the international community.

On March 14, at least 60 civilians were killed by security forces and the death tolls continue rising on March 15 too.

Martial law was declared in Hlaing Tharyar, Shwe Pyithar, South Dagon, North Dagon, Dagon Harbour and North Okkalapa Townships and violence against protesters continued in other districts in Yangon, many of them lower-income areas. At the same time the military continues to frequently block internet access in order to hide its crimes and prevent protesters from organizing.

As nations around the world condemn the actions of the Myanmar security forces, their actions in response remain lacking.

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Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) calls on the UN Security Council to evoke 'Responsibility to Protect' to prevent any further bloodshed as the Tatmadaw's crimes against humanity increase each day.

Responsibility to Protest refers to 2005 World Summit Outcome Document where Heads of State and Government affirmed their responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and accepted a collective responsibility to encourage and help each other uphold this commitment.

They also declared their preparedness to take timely and decisive action, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations, when national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations.

The situation on the ground in Myanmar currently is worsening each day and intervention is desperately needed to protect the civilians of Burma from the criminal military regime. The attacks on civilians are especially despicable because they occur most against the young, the poor, and the minorities.

The UN cannot repeat the same mistakes it made when it failed the Rohingya and must take decisive action now to prevent a terrible situation from becoming even worse.

UN should immediately hold General Assembly to demand collective action in response to the military's widespread and systematic attack on peaceful protesters.

The 'Responsibility to Protect' is a commitment agreed to by all UN member states and calls for action to prevent crimes against humanity from occurring.

Disfunction in the UN, and UN Security Council, in particular, have prevented them from taking any decisive action on several emergencies around the world in recent years. As the situation continues to deteriorate in Myanmar, the citizens cannot afford for the UN to fail again.

BHRN calls on Myanmar to end all hostilities against civilians and to allow the elected Parliament to resume. If the UN fails to enact any meaningful measures to protect the civilians of Myanmar then individual states must take action themselves and make clear to Burma that all options are on the table if the violence does not end.

Condemnations do nothing to save lives when actions are needed. Sanctions against the military's financial interests must be heavily increased, an arms embargo must be enforced, and further steps to thwart the military and police from harming civilians must be outlined.

KYAW WIN
Executive Director, Burma Human Rights Network, London/Yangon


The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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