Myanmar faces the alarming prospect of an escalating civil war as an uprising against the military junta spreads, the UN human rights chief warned Thursday.
Michelle Bachelet told the United Nations Human Rights Council that time is running out for other countries to step up their efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was overthrown by the military in February, sparking a nationwide uprising that the junta tried to crush.
Attacks on troops have increased since lawmakers ousted by the generals called for a “people’s defensive war” earlier this month.
Bachelet said the human rights situation had deteriorated dramatically as the effects of the coup “devastated lives and hopes across the country.”
“Conflict, poverty and the effects of the pandemic are increasing sharply, and the country is facing a whirlwind of repression, violence and economic collapse,” she said.
Faced with the “crushing repression of fundamental rights”, the armed resistance movement is gaining momentum.
“These disturbing trends suggest the alarming possibility of an escalation of the civil war,” she said.
Bachelet urged countries to support a political process that would engage all parties, saying the ASEAN regional bloc and influential powers should use incentives and disincentives “to reverse the military coup and desperate spiral of violence ”.
“Myanmar’s stability and the path to democracy and prosperity have been sacrificed in recent months to further the ambitions of a privileged and well-established military elite,” she said.
“The national consequences are terrible and tragic – the regional consequences could also be profound. The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.
Bachelet said more than 1,100 people are believed to have died at the hands of security forces since the coup, while more than 8,000 others, including children, have been arrested and more than 4,700 still in detention.
The former Chilean president urged all parties – but especially the military – to allow unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
She called on all armed forces to protect civilians and said the use of air strikes and artillery in residential areas must stop immediately.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)