#AceNewsReport – Mar.29: As representatives of the international community, we stand together in expressing deep concern about ongoing and undue restrictions on religious freedom, including those on members of minority ethnic and religious groups, in Burma/Myanmar:
Global calls to tackle Myanmar military’s ‘reign of terror’ after worst mass killing: ‘US secretary of state says Washington ‘horrified’ after bloodiest day since February coup’
Staff and agencies
Sun 28 Mar 2021 06.56 BST:
Protesters face police in Myanmar in one of the bloodiest days since coup
The killing by Myanmar’s military of more than 100 pro-democracy protesters in the single deadliest day since February’s coup has drawn outrage from across the world, and calls for a stronger global response.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, strongly condemned the junta, saying Washington was “horrified” by the deaths on Saturday, and that the violence shows “that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few”.
“I send my deepest condolences to the victims’ families. The courageous people of Burma reject the military’s reign of terror,” he said.
The killings on Saturday – Myanmar’s annual Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945 – would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 440: Diary of a Myanmar medic: ‘I learned to treat gunshot wounds on YouTube’
UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews said it was time for the world to take action – if not through the UN security council then through an international emergency summit. He said the junta should be cut off from funding, such as oil and gas revenues, and from access to weapons.
“Words of condemnation or concern are frankly ringing hollow to the people of Myanmar while the military junta commits mass murder against them,” he said in a statement. “The people of Myanmar need the world’s support. Words are not enough. It is past time for robust, coordinated action.”
The criticism came as top military officials from the US and its allies issued a statement condemning Myanmar’s security forces, saying the country’s military has lost credibility with its people.
“As chiefs of defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar armed forces and associated security services,” the statement read.
It was signed by 12 chiefs of defence from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, UK and the US.
The EU delegation to Myanmar described Saturday as a “day of terror and dishonour”. Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, said the country had marked a “new low”. “We will work with our international partners to end this senseless violence, hold those responsible to account, and secure a path back to democracy,” he said.
The US ambassador, Thomas Vajda, strongly condemned Saturday’s violence. “On Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, security forces are murdering unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they swore to protect,” he said. “This bloodshed is horrifying. These are not the actions of a professional military or police force.”
The joint statement by military chiefs is a rare declaration by the most senior military commanders from countries around the world, including in Asia and Europe.
Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, said on Sunday: “Australia condemns in the strongest terms the continued and horrific use of lethal force against civilians in Myanmar, including young people and children … We call urgently on the Myanmar security forces to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and allow the Myanmar people to exercise their rights to peaceful protest.”
News reports and witnesses said Myanmar security forces killed 114 people, including some children, on Armed Forces Day – the bloodiest day of its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since last month’s military coup.
Myanmar’s military has so far ignored criticism of its violent crackdown on dissent.
Myanmar’s military has said it took power because November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission and international observers. Aung San Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her National League for Democracy party are also in custody.
While the statement by foreign military chiefs did not explicitly condemn the 1 February coup, which ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, it said that a professional military must follow international standards for conduct “and is responsible for protecting – not harming – the people it serves”.
It said the country’s military must “cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions”.
The London-based Burma Human Rights Network reacted to Saturday’s violence by calling on the international community to tighten economic sanctions on Myanmar’s business interests and impose a global arms embargo and a no-fly zone in the country’s ethnic conflict zones.
“Every day the horror committed of the Burmese army gets worse as they become more desperate to cling to the power they stole from the people,” the network’s executive director, Kyaw Win, said. “The international community must respond immediately to end this nightmare for the Burmese people.”
New US and European sanctions this week increased external pressure on the junta, but Myanmar’s generals have enjoyed some support from Russia and China, both veto-holding members of the UN security council that could block any potential UN action.
Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin attended a parade in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw on Saturday, having met senior junta leaders a day earlier.Myanmar’s besieged resistance dreams of ‘people’s army’ to counter junta
Diplomats said eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – sent representatives to the Armed Forces Day parade, but Russia was the only one to send a minister.
Amnesty International called for a stronger international response, including a UN arms embargo and sanctions on the top generals, although Russia and China’s veto power in the Security Council makes it unlikely any such measures could be passed.
“This is just the latest example of the military authorities’ determination to kill their way out of nationwide resistance to the coup,” said Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns.
“These abhorrent killings again show the generals’ brazen disregard for the inadequate pressure applied so far by the international community. The cost of international inaction is being counted in bodies.”
Statement on Burma/Myanmar
We call on authorities to uphold the rights protected by Burma/Myanmar’s own Constitution “to freely profess and practice religion” and pursue accountability for those who have denied others these rights. Many of Burma/Myanmar’s religious and ethnic minorities – including Rohingya and other Muslims, Christians in Kachin and Chin States, and Hindus – face discrimination because of their beliefs.
We are appalled by the horrific acts of violence and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, where Burmese security forces engaged in shocking and brutal violence that caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and many others to be displaced within Burma/Myanmar. The government continues to commit abuses in Rakhine State and restrict access to citizenship and freedom of movement for the majority of Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State, especially for the more than 127,000 Rohingya in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in central Rakhine State. We are also troubled by the widespread reports of human right violations and abuses committed by the military in Kachin and Shan States, which have contributed to the displacement of more than 106,000 civilians. In other regions, authorities and armed actors have detained religious leaders on account of their faith, unduly restricted travel and religious practice, destroyed religious property and texts, denied or failed to approve permits for religious buildings and renovations, transferred lands away from minority communities without proper and transparent process, and discriminated on the basis of religion and ethnicity in public employment.
As Burma/Myanmar prepares for 2020 elections, we call on all stakeholders to ensure that the preparations include equitable treatment of all regardless of religion or ethnicity, and encourage peaceful dialogue between contending parties and candidates. We emphasize the need for equal rights and citizenship, including the right to vote, without distinction as to religion or ethnicity.
We urge Burmese authorities to protect the constitutionally-provided religious freedom of all in Burma/Myanmar, hold accountable perpetrators of abuses, provide unhindered humanitarian access to all in need, and ensure equal protection for all under the law. In Rakhine State, we call upon all parties to show restraint and for all involved to seek a negotiated, durable solution. We urge Burmese authorities to create conditions that would allow for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and IDPs to Rakhine State, including by implementing the recommendations of the Annan Commission and by respecting the human rights of members of the Rohingya community in Burma/Myanmar.
Co-Signatories: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Canada, Cyprus, Georgia, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Marshall Islands, Oman, The Gambia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America
GUARDIAN: Additional reporting by Reuters and Emma Graham-Harrison
#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Mar.29: 2021:
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