Crime & Justice

Calls for arms embargo against Myanmar junta grow after massacre

(Update 1: adds demand of arms embargo)

Bangkok, Dec 30 (EFE).- Myanmar’s pro-democracy opposition has demanded an international weapons embargo against Myanmar’s military regime, days after the country witnessed a massacre of civilians and burning of villages along with other alleged rights abuses by the military.

On Thursday, local Chindwin News Agency published video footage showing smoke rising from burned houses in a village in the eastern Chin province after an alleged attack by the military junta’s forces.

The agency said that at least 55 houses were burned in the Thantlang village amid armed conflict between the Myanmar military, ethnic rebel groups and anti-junta militias formed after the Feb. 1 coup.

In October, the Myanmar military was accused of burning at least 400 houses in various localities in Chin, according to the local Association of Assistance to Political Prisoners.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned last week’s massacre of at least 35 people in Myanmar, including four children and two humanitarian workers, and demanded accountability.

The members of the body “stressed the need to ensure accountability for this act,” called for the “immediate cessation of all violence and emphasized the importance of respect for human rights and of ensuring safety of civilians,” it said in a statement.

Most of the pro-democracy opposition and human rights nonprofits have demanded a weapons embargo on the country.

“A global arms embargo is at the top of list of things the UN Security Council should be doing!” nonprofit Human Right Watch’s Asia deputy director, Phil Robertson, tweeted on Thursday.

Russia and China are the main weapons suppliers to the Myanmar military and also the UNSC members considered closest to the junta, having been blamed for blocking such an embargo.

Many Myanmar activists have criticized UN agencies for their alleged ambiguous stand on Myanmar, as they sometimes express “concern” without directly naming the junta.

In its statement, the UNSC members “stressed the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need,” and for the “full protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical ersonnel,” in clear reference to the two Save the Children workers who were killed in the attack.

Unicef confirmed on Tuesday that four children were among the victims of the massacre of civilians in eastern Kayah state, allegedly perpetrated by the armed forces.

“Two 17-year-old boys, a teenage girl and a child of approximately 5-6 years of age, of indeterminate gender” were killed in the attack, the international body said in a statement, citing “credible reports.”

Save the Children had also confirmed on Tuesday that two of its humanitarian workers, who it had previously reported missing, were found among the victims.

The two men were new fathers dedicated to the education of children, it said, adding that they had been “on their way back to their office after working on a humanitarian response in a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack. The military forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many and burnt the bodies.”

The burned bodies were found on Dec. 24 in Kayah, one of the states in embroiled in conflict between the military and civilian militias opposed to the coup.

Myanmar has spiraled into crisis and further violence since the military led by Min Aung Hlaing seized power in the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

In addition to peaceful protests and a civil disobedience movement, civilian militias have taken up arms alongside ethnic guerrillas that have been in conflict with the military for decades.

After 10 months since the coup, the military junta still does not have the support of the majority of the country despite the violence unleashed against dissent, which has caused at least 1,382 deaths, according to the Association of Assistance to Political Prisoners. EFE

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