Political, humanitarian crisis in Myanmar deepening: UN special envoytext_fields
United Nations: The political and humanitarian crisis affecting human rights in military-ruled Myanmar is growing, the United Nations special envoy to the Southeast Asian nation informed the UN, Associated Press reported.
The crisis was taking a serious toll on the inhabitants of the country, the envoy, Noeleen Heyzer, submitted before the UN General Assembly's human rights committee.
She said that more than 13.2 million people don't have enough to eat, and 1.3 million are displaced due to the crisis. The military was employing bombings, burnings of homes and buildings, and the killing of civilians.
It was her first briefing after she visited Myanmar in August and head of the country's military government Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. She briefed that the meeting was out of the UN's efforts to back an urgent civilian rule there. "There is a new political reality in Myanmar: a people demanding change, no longer willing to accept the military rule," she said.
She had requested the military government's chief to end the aerial bombing and the burning of civilian infrastructure; deliver humanitarian aid without discriminating; release all children and political prisoners; institute a moratorium on executions; ensure the well-being of and allow meetings with the country's imprisoned former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and create conditions for the voluntary and safe return of over 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh to escape military crackdowns.
For five decades, Myanmar was under harsh military rule, leading to isolation and sanctions. In 2015, Suu Kyi rose to power through elections after generals lax a bit. After that, the international community responded positively, lifting sanctions and pumping investments into the country.
However, a military coup happened in February 2021 after the 2020 November elections and dominating victory of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party. The military alleged fraudulent elections.
The military's takeover met with massive public dissent and protests, which extended to armed resistance too. UN experts called the situation a civil war.
The international community expressed their disapproval of the military regime. Though the junta agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability to the country, it was never implemented. The plan calls for the immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all concerned parties, mediation of the dialogue process by an ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels and a visit to Myanmar by the association's special envoy to meet all concerned parties.
Heyzer, as well as ASEAN special envoy Prak Sokhonn, visited the country, but both were not allowed to visit Suu Kyi.
Heyzer told the UN committee, "While there is little room for the de-escalation of violence or for talks about talks' in the present zero-sum situation, there are some concrete ways to reduce the suffering of the people."
She was critical of the ASEAN's five-point consensus, which she said does not talk about Rohingya or how to take Myanmar to civilian rule.
She further said that the five-point plan "works through the channels of the military, and it doesn't quite reach the people that are most in need."
She will keep pressing ASEAN to develop a regional protection framework for refugees and forcibly displaced persons," she told the UN.
She said, "The recent forced return of Myanmar nationals, some of whom were detained on arrival, underlines the urgency of a coordinated ASEAN response to address shared regional challenges caused by the conflict."
Then she said that the main armed ethnic organizations and the opposition National Unity Government appealed to her to convene a forum "to facilitate the protection and humanitarian assistance to all people in need, in observance of international humanitarian law."
Rohingya, and those others who were forcibly displaced from Myanmar, "remains desperate, with many seeking refuge through dangerous land and sea journeys," Heyzer said.
Violence between the Arakan Army and the government in northern Rakhine state, where the Rohingya fled from but where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya still live, "has escalated to levels not seen since late 2020, with significant cross-border incursions." She added that this is endangering all communities, harming conditions for the return of Rohingya, and "prolonging the burden on Bangladesh."