Geneva [Switzerland]: Since the Myanmar military launched its “disastrous” coup last year, conditions have worsened, said UN-appointed independent human rights expert Tom Andrews on Wednesday.
At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Andrews presented a grim assessment of 1.3 million displaced people. He said that 28,000 destroyed homes. “…villages burned to the ground; more than 13,000 children were killed as the death toll for innocent people rises significantly; a looming food crisis; and 130,000 Rohingya in de facto internment camps while others suffer deprivation and discrimination rooted in their lack of citizenship.”
“With each report, I have warned that unless UN Member States change course in the way they collectively respond to this crisis, the people of Myanmar will suffer even further,” he said while adding that conditions have “gone from bad to worse to horrific.”
He said the people of Myanmar are deeply disappointed by the response of the international community to this crisis. “They are frustrated and angered by Member States that are working to prop up this illegal and brutal military junta with funding, trade, weapons, and a veneer of legitimacy,” he explained.
The Myanmar military is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity daily, including murder, sexual violence, torture, and the targeting of civilians, Andrews continued.
And conflict is spreading throughout the country as increasingly more civilians take up arms against the junta.
Moreover, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding because military leaders are obstructing aid deliveries to displaced populations and communities they perceive to be aligned with pro-democracy forces.
“Untold numbers of innocent people have been left without access to food, medicine, and the means to survive,” he said.
Observing that the international response has failed, the UN expert said that “first and foremost,” Member States must more forcefully deprive the junta of revenue, weapons, and the legitimacy it needs to attack the Burmese and suppress their democratic aspirations.
“Many in Myanmar have come to the conclusion that the world has forgotten them, or simply doesn’t care. They ask me why Member States refuse to take measures that are both possible and practical, measures that could save untold numbers of lives,” he said.
Reminding that the Human Rights Council is referred to as the UN’s conscience, he appealed to its members to “re-think status quo policies” that aren’t working and set a new course of action for UN Member States to stand with and for those are “fighting for their lives, their children, their future”.