Conflicts & War

Over 130 NGOs demand global arms embargo on Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 24 (efe-epa).- More than 130 human rights organizations on Wednesday demanded the United Nations Security Council urgently impose an international arms embargo on Myanmar, where on Feb. 1 the military seized power in a coup.

Since then, at least three protesters have been shot dead with live ammunition in clashes with security forces, while many have been injured, including by rubber bullets and water cannons.

In addition, at least 696 people have been arrested since the coup, including the deposed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and 50 people who have been released, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP) in the country.

“Our concerns are heightened by ongoing violations of human rights and the security forces’ history of grave abuses against peaceful critics of military rule, as well as against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups,” said the open letter signed by 137 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, from 31 countries.

The group denounced the “excessive and at times lethal force” used by the junta to quell the massive but peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations taking place throughout the country, as well as arrests of civilians, elected leaders and civil servants, the nightly disconnection of the internet and the blocking of social networks.

The arms embargo must include “the direct and indirect supply, sale, or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment, as well as the provision of training, intelligence, and other military assistance.”

“The embargo should be accompanied by robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the organizations said.

United Nations member countries must adopt measures to block the sale of arms to the Southeast Asian country until the Security Council acts, the joint document adds.

On Feb. 1, Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratically elected government, blocked internet access and suspended flights. It continues to enforce internet blackouts across the country every night from 1 am to 9 am.

The military justified its seizure of power by claiming fraud in the November election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide. EFE-EPA


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