UN human rights head warns Myanmar faces an 'alarming' threat of civil war

Smoke rises from smouldering houses in Kinma village after residents said military troops burned the village, Pauk township, Magwe division, central Myanmar, on June 16, 2021. (AP)

According to the UN's human rights chief, Myanmar is on the verge of increasing civil war as the revolt against the military junta grows.

On Thursday, UN Human Rights Council President Michelle Bachelet warned that time was running out for other nations to join up efforts to restore democracy and prevent a wider conflict.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi's government in February, unleashing a countrywide uprising that the junta has tried to put down.

Since MPs dismissed by the generals called for a "people's defensive war" earlier this month, attacks on troops have intensified.

Armed resistance is brewing.

The human rights situation has deteriorated substantially, according to Bachelet, as the coup's repercussions "devastate lives and hopes across the country."

"Conflict, poverty, and the effects of the pandemic are sharply increasing, and the country faces a vortex of repression, violence, and economic collapse," she warned.

The armed resistance movement was rising in response to the "overwhelming repression of fundamental rights."

"These disturbing trends suggest the alarming possibility of an escalating civil war," she warned.

Bachelet asked countries to back a political process that includes all parties, saying the ASEAN regional bloc and powerful countries should employ incentives and disincentives to "to reverse the military coup and desperate spiral of violence."

"Myanmar's stability and path to democracy and prosperity have been sacrificed over these last months to advance the ambitions of a privileged and entrenched military elite," she said.

"The national ramifications are horrible and tragic; the regional ramifications could be even worse. Before it is too late, the international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent further conflict."

Hundreds of people have died.

Since the coup, more than 1,100 people have reportedly died at the hands of security forces. In contrast, according to Bachelet, over 8,000 others, including children, have been arrested, and more than 4,700 are still detained.

According to the human rights chief, her office continues to receive reports of ill-treatment and torture in interrogation techniques from numerous places. It has credible information that more than 120 detainees have died in jail — some within 24 hours of their arrest.

"There is no sign of any efforts by the military authorities to stop these violations nor implement previous recommendations to tackle impunity and security sector reform," Bachelet added.

"This emphasizes the critical importance of strong accountability procedures. It also contradicts ASEAN leaders' promises to end the violence and initiate a constructive conversation amongst all sides "She went on to say that the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is a good organization.

According to the former Chilean president, all sides, particularly the military, should grant unlimited access to humanitarian aid, and all political detainees should be released immediately.

She demanded that the armed forces protect civilians and stop air raids and artillery shelling in residential areas.

Publish : 2021-09-23 19:20:00

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