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News in Brief 3 March 2023

News in Brief 3 March 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Myanmar: Tatmadaw’s ‘scorched earth’ policy in spotlight

Two years since Myanmar’s military coup, the UN rights office warned on Friday that the army’s “scorched earth” policy has left thousands of civilians dead and 80 per cent of townships impacted by armed clashes.

An update on the crisis from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, documents the continuous use of violence, including the killing, arbitrary arrest, torture and enforced disappearance of opponents in Myanmar.

Around 3,000 civilians have been killed so far – amid a sharp rise in violence, especially in northwest and southeast Myanmar, OHCHR said.

With more, here’s Spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani:

“Among the numerous incidents of airstrikes, on 16 September - in Let Yet Kone village, Tabayin Township, Sagaing - four helicopters opened fire on a school killing at least six children and injuring nine others. After some 60 soldiers deployed from helicopters to the ground, they reportedly raided the village, executing a school technician and five villagers before arresting wounded children and teachers.”

The UN rights office report also noted that there are now also nearly 20,000 political prisoners in Myanmar. Some 16,000 remain in detention but their whereabouts are unclear.

Iran urged to investigate allegations of school ‘poisonings’

Staying with the UN rights office, which on Friday urged the Iranian authorities to conduct transparent investigations into possible gas attacks on schools.

According to media reports, hundreds of students from dozens of schools have been hospitalised, with girls’ schools apparently targeted in the majority of cases.

OHCHR appealed for the findings of any probe to be made public and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.

Any violence against women and girls is unacceptable, insisted OHCHR, which also called on the Iranian authorities to implement effective legislation and policies to prevent violence and discrimination against them.

For first time, women represented in all parliaments of the world

A little bit of good news - and it’s a first too - that women now participate in all parliaments of the world, the Interparliamentary Union, IPU, said on Friday.

In its latest annual report, the global body also said that women’s participation in parliament has never been as diverse as it is in many countries today.

The findings in the annual IPU report are based on the 47 countries that held elections last year.

These polls saw women take an average of 25.8 per cent of the seats available, representing a 2.3 percentage point increase, since elections were last held.

Despite this positive data, IPU noted that it is the smallest increase in women’s participation in six years.

The other bad news is that at this rate, it will take another 80 years to reach gender parity in parliament, said Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General:

“Currently, one of the foremost obstacles, is the climate of sexism, harassment, violence against women that we are witnessing across the world. It is a phenomenon that is pervasive across the world and it is not endemic to any particular region. And we can estimate that this is having a toll on the participation of women in political life.”

The IPU chief referred to the resignations of New Zealand and Scotland premiers Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon, saying that it was widely held that they had stepped down after being harassed.

Mr. Chungong also pointed to other IPU data showing pervasive and increasing trends of harassment, sexism and violence against women that deters them from participating in the political processes in their countries.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • Myanmar: Tatmadaw’s ‘scorched earth’ policy in spotlight
  • Iran urged to investigate allegations of school ‘poisonings’
  • For first time, women represented in all parliaments worldwide
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
3'48"
Photo Credit
Unsplash/Ajay Karpur