UN envoy: Broad opposition to Myanmar military repression

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Widespread popular resistance to the brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s military shows no signs of abating across much of the country, and with both sides intent on winning by force, “there is none Perspective of a negotiated solution,” said the UN special envoy to the conflict-ridden nation on Thursday.

In a somber assessment, Noeleen Heyzer told the 193-strong UN General Assembly that the impact of the country’s military takeover in February 2021 had been “devastating” and violence continued “at an alarming rate”.

She pointed to the military’s increased use of force since its February 1 extension of the state of emergency, including bombings, burning of civilian infrastructure “and other gross human rights abuses to retain power.” She said the regime’s “four cuts strategy” — blocking access to food, funds, information and recruits — continued to target civilians as collective punishment.

Myanmar had suffered under strict military rule for five decades, but generals then relaxed their grip and in 2015 Aung San Suu Kyi rose to lead an elected civilian government. After the government was overthrown by the military two years ago, the junta resorted to violence to suppress public opposition to the takeover. Some experts are now considering the situation in Myanmar a civil war in which the army has waged major offensives against widespread armed resistance.

Heyzer said the generation that benefited from the country’s opening up after 2015, particularly young people, “are now disillusioned, facing chronic hardship and many feel they have no choice but to take up arms, to fight against military rule.”

She said heavy fighting had spread to new areas, endangering more lives and complicating operations to deliver humanitarian aid. She said 17.6 million people now need help.

Heyzer said she and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made it clear that with people unable to “freely exercise their political rights without fear or intimidation,” the elections called by the military for later this year only risked exacerbation of violence.

“There is no public confidence in the regime, which is interested in consolidating its control by making the transition from emergency rule to a longer-term, military-backed government,” she said.

Heyzer said it is crucial that Myanmar’s future be decided by its people through a Myanmar-led process that reflects all voices, and she emphasized that “sustainable solutions for the Rohingya people lead to the building of a peaceful, inclusive and democratic… Myanmar must be integrated”.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh over several decades, including some 740,000 who crossed the border from August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a crackdown. International courts are examining whether this was genocide.

Thanking Bangladesh, Heyzer said she heeded the message that the current situation is unsustainable, but she told the gathering that the return of the Rohingya “cannot be the mere closure of camps or the relocation of people,” but lasting solutions for must ensure their safety and security well-being.

She said the Rohingya made it clear during their visit last year that they want to be involved in decisions about their future and their current exclusion “has reinforced their marginalization”. She asked for $125 million to avoid a ration cut for Rohingya refugees this month.

Heyzer and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, whose country heads the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, briefed the UN Security Council behind closed doors on Monday.

The UN envoy said she discussed with Marsudi “the urgency of making concrete progress” on ASEAN’s five-point consensus on restoring peace in Myanmar, adopted in April 2021. Myanmar agreed to the steps but did not implement them.

The consensus calls for an end to the violence, constructive dialogue with all parties, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy to act as mediator, humanitarian assistance and the mediator’s visit to Myanmar, including a meeting with now-imprisoned leader Suu Kyi.

Heyzer said she and the Indonesian minister also discussed the possibility of a regional framework to protect the Rohingya and all other refugees from Myanmar.

With no prospect of a negotiated solution now, reporters later asked the UN envoy what the next diplomatic step would be.

“We cannot give up,” she said, stressing that her engagement will continue with all parties to understand their bottom line and red lines, as well as with countries influencing the different actors.

“Ultimately, we want a movement towards a fairer and more democratic union in Myanmar for all,” Heyzer said.

Source : news.yahoo.com

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