Punitive measures eyed vs Myanmar junta, military officials

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A day after military junta forces killed at least 38 protesters in Myanmar, a United Nations human rights expert urged both the UN Security Council and its member-states to impose far-reaching punitive measures against the military’s senior leaders, associates and military-own companies.

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the situation in the Southeast Asian nation, Tomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, published a 52-page report on Thursday, describing the military junta as illegal, illegitimate and responsible for wide-ranging human rights violations against peaceful protestors.

“Every day the military junta in Myanmar unleashes more brutality on peaceful protesters who are standing up for justice, human rights and democracy, defending their nation against this illegal military coup,” Andrews said in a statement accompanying the report.

Since the military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, arrested civilian leaders and declared itself the State Administrative Council, it has committed murder, arbitrary detention, beatings and probable enforced disappearances, the report states, adding it has also passed laws to suppress freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the right to privacy.

“The coup completely overturned the rule of law in Myanmar,” it said.

Since the coup, millions of people have taken to the streets nationwide in a civil disobedience movement, demanding the release of all those who have been detained, the abolishment of the dictatorship and the reinstatement of democracy, among other demands.

The protests have been met with escalating violence with at least 23 deaths reported by Monday, the report said.

On Wednesday, Christine Schraner Burgener said 38 had been killed a day prior and that the stability of the region was slipping into a “real war.”

More than 50 people have been killed and more than 1,500 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup, according to data from Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Andrews, in his report, urged the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo, targeted economic sanctions, deny recognition of the military junta and to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

He also called on member states to establish a multilateral coordinated sanctions regime targeting senior junta leaders, their associates and sources of funding, including military-owned assets such as the state’s oil and gas company as well as join the 41 other nations that have already placed arms embargoes on Myanmar.

EFFECTIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

The report states that the civil disobedience moment has been “remarkably effective” and that the nation’s disparate population has “never been more unified” but they require the support of the international community.

“While the future of Myanmar will be determined by its people, the international community must act urgently and decisively to support them,” Andrews said. “The stakes could not be higher.”

Britain, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States have already imposed varying degrees of sanctions against Myanmar since the coup.

On Thursday, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security imposed trade restrictions on Myanmar in response to the escalation in violence, putting in place restrictive export controls over sensitive items.

It also added export controls to Myanmar’s Ministry of Defense and Home Affairs and to its associated corporations, the Myanmar Economic Corporation and the Myanmar Economic Holding Limited.

“Commerce is reviewing potential additional measures as warranted by the military’s actions,” the federal department said in a statement. “The US government will continue to hold perpetrators of the coup responsible for their actions.”

Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that they are continuing to urge the Myanmar military to use “maximum restraint” against protesters, stating there will be additional action by the United States against the junta.

“This latest escalation in violence demonstrates that fact of the junta’s complete disregard for their own people, for the people of Burma,” he said referring to the country by its former name. “It is unacceptable, and the world will continue to respond. The United States will continue to respond.”

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