A portion of Mingin township in Sagaing Division destroyed by Myanmar’s military junta , according to local media.  

By Robin Gomes

Feb 25 2022

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar says that Russia, China and Serbia, who are UN Security Council members, are among countries supplying the arms that the junta is using to kill civilians.

The United Nations human rights expert on Myanmar on Tuesday urged the Security Council to take strong actions to stop countries, including two Council members, from supplying arms to the junta, saying they are used to kill civilians.

Weapons used to kill civilians 

“The people of Myanmar are imploring the UN to act. They deserve an up-or-down vote on a Security Council resolution that will stop the sale of weapons being used to kill them,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews.   “Too many families are finding themselves in the cross-hairs of weapons of war that Member States are supplying. This must end,” he stressed in a report to the Human Rights Council. 

The February 1, 2021 military coup, headed by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, imprisoning her and other elected leaders. The takeover triggered widespread protests and strikes, calling for her release and the restoration of the democratic process.  The junta has responded with a bloody crackdown on opponents killing more than 1,560 so far. 

Andrews appealed to weapons exporting nations to immediately suspend their weapons sales and urged the convening of an emergency Security Council session to debate and vote on a resolution to, at minimum, ban those arms transfers that the Myanmar military are known to use to attack and kill Myanmar civilians.

China, Russia, Serbia among suppliers

Andrew’s report titled, Enabling Atrocities: UN Member States’ Arms Transfers to the Myanmar Military, includes the types and amounts of weapons that have been transferred to the Myanmar military.  Despite the evidence of the military junta’s atrocity crimes being committed with impunity since the coup, he said UN Security Council members Russia, China and Serbia continue to provide the Myanmar military junta with numerous fighter jets, armoured vehicles, rockets and other weapons that are being used to attack civilians.

Stressing that the transfer of weapons used to kill civilians truly shocks the conscience, Andrews warned, “The more the world delays, the more innocent people, including children, will die in Myanmar.”  “In its attacks against civilians over the years,” the report said, “the Myanmar military has consistently used aerial bombardment from combat helicopters, fighter jets, and artillery, as well as ground armoured vehicles.”  

UN resolution lacks teeth

Andrews said the General Assembly resolution last June, calling on Member States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar, lacked teeth.  He said, “The failure of the resolution to have any discernable impact on the crisis and the capacity of the junta to launch attacks on civilians, however, has led to anger and despair.” He appealed to members of the Security Council “who are appalled by the killing of Myanmar civilians to put forward a resolution to stop it”. 

Without legitimacy among the people of Myanmar, the military junta, he said, uses military force as the means to exert control.

He called for coordinated action by Member States “to freeze remaining revenue streams, financial flows, and assets to the junta”, and also to boycott goods linked to the military, such as timber, gemstones, jade, pearl, rare earths and other products.

Protest anniversary

Meanwhile, Tuesday, February 22, also marked the first anniversary of last year’s massive nationwide general strike against army rule just weeks after the military seized power on February 1.   Opponents of military rule gathered for protests in Myanmar’s cities, defying threats by the authorities to arrest anyone joining demonstrations against the army’s takeover.

Rohingya genocide

The previous day, lawyers representing the military rulers sought to have a case at the United Nations’ International Court of Justice top court that accuses the country of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Public hearings at the International Court of Justice went ahead amid questions about who should represent Myanmar in the aftermath of the military take-over of the country.

Worsening crises

The coup and the protests have has revived the military’s old conflicts with armed ethnic organizations, while numerous civil resistance groups have sprung up in self-defence against the atrocities of security forces. 

According to the latest estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Myanmar’s turmoil is projected to have driven almost half the country’s 54 million people into poverty, wiping out the impressive gains made since 2005.  It is now estimated that 14 out of 15 states and regions are within the critical threshold for acute malnutrition. 

The UN estimates 25 million are in poverty, with 14.4 million in need of humanitarian aid in some form or other in 2022. The number includes 6.9 million men, 7.5 million women, and 5 million children.  OCHA said $826 million are needed to reach 6.2 million of the 14.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance this year. 

Earlier this month, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said that the number of Myanmar’s internally displaced persons has doubled to over 800,000.  Before the 1 February coup, there were already some 370,000 IDPs. The coup has displaced some 440,000 more people.  An estimated 46,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring countries in the past one year.  – VaticanNews