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Targeted sanctions, arms embargo needed to stem Myanmar military abuses

HRC47: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Myanmar

Myanmar police block a road near the US embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, February 22, 2021. © 2021 AP Photo

We welcome the Council’s decision to proceed with this important dialogue.  

Myanmar once again stands at a precipice, threatening to become an international human rights pariah. Since the February 1 coup, the military junta has arbitrarily detained thousands and killed hundreds, including dozens of children. Legislators from the elected government remain detained incommunicado.

The civilian population lives under a constant fear of arbitrary arrest and detention.  Journalists, lawyers, doctors, and students face increased intimidation and threats. Those who had been held in interrogation centers and prisons describe widespread torture and ill-treatment.

The military-controlled State Administration Council (SAC) continues to restrict the internet and has ramped-up phone and internet surveillance, cutting critical information amid a global pandemic and political crisis. The junta has also exploited the political instability to launch new, abusive military operations in ethnic minority areas across the country, displacing hundreds of thousands.

The Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has issued strong calls for a global arms embargo against the junta alongside targeted sanctions against junta members, and for businesses to reassess their economic dealings with the military.

Concerned states should urgently adopt or enhance targeted sanctions on the junta leadership and on military-owned companies, such as the oil and gas entities that keep the junta in power.

The UN General Assembly has urged member states to halt arms transfers to Myanmar. The UN Security Council should follow through and impose a global arms embargo to help prevent further military abuses.

The only way back from the precipice is the restoration of an elected civilian government that delivers on its commitments to address the root causes of Myanmar’s human rights crisis.  These include ensuring equality and non-discrimination for all ethnic groups in Myanmar, notably recognition of Rohingya citizenship and other basic rights.

We encourage the Special Rapporteur and High Commissioner to provide intersessional briefings as needed so that this Council can take all measures necessary to respond to this unfolding crisis.

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