International community must act now on Myanmar

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by AFP

THE international community needs to step up and take actions to effectively halt Myanmar’s military activities, after an estimated 100 people including children were killed over the weekend, Asean parliamentarians said.

Klang MP and Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights chairman Charles Santiago said the steps that need to be taken are clear, which are to have a comprehensive arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions against all military-owned businesses, not just senior military officials.

“The genocidal regime of General Min Aung Hlaing is responding to two months of statements of international condemnation by shelling villages, killing children in their homes and ever-in-creasing brutality. There is clearly no way to reason or have dialogue with this man.

“What now needs to happen is for the global community to come together to effectively choke the military as it is the only way to stop it. This starts with cutting its access to arms and cash,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The world witnessed the bloodiest day so far in the crackdown on Saturday, which was also Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, and while its troops committed violence in several towns across the country, the military held a parade in the capital, Naypyidaw, attended by representatives of eight countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

The weekend crackdown also involved airstrikes on villagers close to the Thailand-Myanmar border, causing about 3,000 people to flee to Thailand.

Santiago said it was shameful that Asean states sent representatives to celebrate the murderous dictator, while other states showed that the economic interest was more important than people’s lives.

“The decision by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to send representatives to the ceremony, at the same time he was cracking down on peaceful protests at home, leaves no doubt as to the fact that he stands firmly on the side of dictatorship, not democracy.

“China, Russia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, by also attending the Armed Forces Day parade, sent a clear message that the geopolitical and economic interests matter more than people’s lives. I fear that the people of Myanmar might not only be the victim of their brutal military, but of bigger international powers’ shameful battle for influence in the region,” Santiago added.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that US President Joe Biden has led global condemnation of an “absolutely outrageous” crackdown by

Myanmar’s junta that left more than 100 people — including several children — dead since the coup two months ago.

“It’s absolutely outrageous and based on the reporting I’ve gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily,” Biden told reporters on Sunday, according to the report.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the junta’s celebration of its armed forces had been blighted by “a day of horror and of shame”.

Yesterday, the British Foreign Ministry advised its nationals in Myanmar to leave as soon as possible, following “a significant increase in the level of recent violence”.

Read our previous report here

Death toll rises to 141 in Myanmar’s bloodiest day