Conflicts & War

Blinken: Myanmar crisis from military coup getting ‘worse’

Bangkok, Dec 15 (EFE).- The United States’ state secretary said Wednesday that the political and social crisis in Myanmar triggered by February’s coup was getting worse and said the US was studying additional steps and measures against the junta.

Antony Blinken, on a trip to Malaysia, said the US had condemned the “horrific” violence unleashed by the military against the population after the seizure of power, which has already left 1,339 people dead, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar.

“In (the) 10 months since the military coup, the crisis has only continued to worsen. We have repeatedly condemned (the) horrific and widespread violence perpetrated by the Burmese junta against the people of Burma. We’ve not only spoken out but we’ve taken various actions to increase pressure on the junta to change course (…) Its going to be very important in the weeks and months ahead to look at what additional steps and measures we can take individually (and) collectively to pressure the regime, to put the country back on a democratic trajectory,” Blinken said.

The Feb.1 coup has plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis and opened a spiral of violence with new civilian militias that have exacerbated the decades-long guerrilla war in the country.

“We continue also to look actively at determinations of what are the actions taken in Myanmar and whether they constitute genocide and that’s something we’re looking at very actively right now,” Blinken replied, when asked about the mainly-Muslim Rohingya minority during a joint press conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is investigating allegations of genocide brought against the Myanmar military for its operation in 2017 in Rakhine state in western Myanmar, which caused more than 720,000 Rohingyas to flee to the neighboring Bangladesh.

United Nations experts have described the military campaign as “ethnic cleansing” with “hallmarks of genocide,” in which more than 10,000 Rohingya were killed, according to conservative figures by the nonprofit, Doctors Without Borders.

Blinken on Wednesday defended the five-point consensus, reached in April between the ASEAN leaders and the leader of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, to seek a solution to the political and social crisis triggered by the coup.

The five points include an end to violence against civilians and the release of detained politicians including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

US President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet his counterparts of the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN), which includes Myanmar, in January.

Prior to that, the bloc’s foreign ministers will take a decision on the inclusion of the coup leader in the meeting that will take place in Washington DC.

In a meeting in October, the bloc’s foreign ministers had described the progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus as “insufficient.”

The junta justifies the coup by alleging electoral fraud during the general election of November 2020, the result of which it has since annulled, but in which Suu Kyi’s party won by a landslide with the endorsement of international observers. EFE


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