On Wednesday May 5th, over 200 global non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say the time for statements has passed. The NGOs stress the need for immediate action to help protect peaceful protesters against military rule and other opponents of the junta. As such, they are urging the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar.
Result from the coup
Since their Feb 1st coup, the military “has demonstrated a callous disregard for human life”. At least 769 people have been killed, including 51 children as young as six years old. Several thousand activists, journalists, civil servants and politicians are currently under detention. All this together with the disappearance of hundreds of people were highlighted in an NGO statement.
The NGOs point of view
The NGOs said “No government should sell a single bullet to the junta under these circumstances.”
“Imposing a global arms embargo on Myanmar is the minimum necessary step the Security Council should take in response to the military’s escalating violence.”
The United Kingdom is the Security Council nation in charge of drafting resolutions on Myanmar. The NGOs urge the UK to start negotiating for a resolution to authorize an arms embargo as soon as possible. They claim such an embargo will show the junta there will be no further arms business as usual.
The outcome of the coup
For five decades, Myanmar had suffered under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to leadership in the 2015 elections became possible because the generals loosened their grip. The return to democracy saw positive response from the international community. Investments started to pour into Myanmar. Also, it saw the lifting of most of the international sanctions.
The results of the November elections were the cause of the now infamous coup. The military lost the elections, while Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by a majority.
Since the coup, the 15-member UN Security Council has been issuing various statements. These statements include demanding the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. The Security Council is also demanding the release of all detainees including Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Security Council statements strongly condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians. It called “on all sides to refrain from violence” and called on the military “to exercise utmost restraint”.
“The need to fully respect human rights and to pursue dialogue and reconciliation” was also stressed.
The Security Council supports diplomatic efforts to find a solution by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It also supports a similar mission led by UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener.
The NGOs said “The time for statements has passed. The Security Council should take its consensus on Myanmar to a new level and agree on immediate and substantive action.”
The NGOs say a global arms embargo should prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms. This includes “all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment”. They also said intelligence, training, and other military assistance should also be banned.
Weapons supplied by other countries
A virtual news conference was held to launch the NGOs statement. Lawrence Moss, Amnesty International’s Senior UN Advocate, was present in the conference. Moss said that Myanmar buys its weaponry from many countries.
Moss provided information Amnesty’s research obtained from trusted sources. He said Russia supplies combat aircraft and attack helicopters to Myanmar.
Supplies of naval weapons, combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and surveillance drones come from China. China is also supplying aid to the Burmese indigenous naval industry. They supply small arms and armoured vehicles to ethnic armed groups, especially the Kachin Independence Army, according to Moss.
Ukraine has a joint venture to produce armoured vehicles in Myanmar. It had previously supplied Myanmar’s military with armoured vehicles, according to Moss.
Other countries like Turkey, have sold shotguns and shotgun cartridges to Myanmar. India has sold naval equipment including a submarine with torpedoes, together with armoured vehicles and troop carriers. Small quantities of artillery systems and small arms were listed in recorded transfers by Serbia.
The Security Council faces opposition from China and Russia as both countries are generally not in favour of sanctions.
7th May 2021 23:00
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