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‘Unacceptable’ violence, intimidation and harassment in Myanmar – UN chief 

Dusk approaches in Yangon, Myanmar.
Unsplash/Alexander Schimmeck
Dusk approaches in Yangon, Myanmar.

‘Unacceptable’ violence, intimidation and harassment in Myanmar – UN chief 

Peace and Security

An increased use of force and the reported deployment of armoured vehicles to major cities throughout Myanmar have sparked the deep concern of UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

In a statement issued on Sunday by his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN chief called on the military and police of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to ensure that the right of peaceful assembly is “fully respected” and demonstrators are “not subjected to reprisals”.  

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“Reports of continued violence, intimidation and harassment by security personnel are unacceptable”, he spelled out. 

The unfolding situation follows a military takeover on 1 February. 

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, tweeted, “it’s as if the generals have declared war on the people of Myanmar: late night raids; mounting arrests; more rights stripped away’ another Intrnet shutdown; military convoys entering communities”. 

“These are signs of desperation. Attention generals: You WILL be held accountable”, he underscored. 

Call for respect 

Ongoing arrests of political leaders, government officials, members of civil society and media representatives are “deeply concerning”, as are internet restrictions and communication restraints, according to Mr. Guterres who upheld that they “must not be disrupted" to ensure the right to freedom of expression, which includes access to information. 

He reiterated his call on Member States “collectively and bilaterally” to exercise influence regarding the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar and reaffirmed the Organization's “unwavering support” to their pursuit of “democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law”.   

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“The Secretary-General calls on the military authorities urgently to allow the Special Envoy, Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener, to visit Myanmar under agreeable conditions and to assess the situation firsthand”, concluded the statement.     

Military leaders ‘emboldened’ 

Meanwhile, on Friday, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif had noted that the current crisis in the country is “a profound setback after a decade of hard-won democratic gains”.  

She told a special session of the Human Rights Council that for over 20 years, “successive High Commissioners and many eminent experts have briefed this Council, and its predecessor, on violations committed by the country’s military”, adding that a lack of action has “emboldened military leaders and contributed to this present crisis”.  

“The indiscriminate use of lethal, or less than lethal weapons, against peaceful protesters, is unacceptable”, Ms. al-Nashif said. “More violence against Myanmar's people will only compound the illegitimacy of the coup and the culpability of its leaders”.