Myanmar has plunged into a ‘human rights catastrophe’, violence escalating: UN rights chief
- Myanmar’s armed forces carried out a coup d’etat in February by detaining de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians after weeks of heightened tensions owing to a disputed election.
A day after Myanmar’s military junta formally charged civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials with corruption, the UN rights chief said that the violence was further escalating in the Southeast Asian nation. Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, warned on Friday that Myanmar has plunged into a “human rights catastrophe” since the military coup in February.
“In just over four months, Myanmar has gone from being a fragile democracy to a human rights catastrophe...The military leadership is singularly responsible for this crisis, and must be held to account,” Bachelet said in a statement.
Myanmar’s armed forces carried out a coup d’état by detaining de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians after weeks of heightened tensions owing to a disputed election. The military, which ruled Myanmar for nearly five decades, again took control under a state of emergency for one year, triggering protests across the country and condemnation from world leaders.
Scores of pro-democracy protesters and children have been killed by Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, since the coup. Several media reports indicate a military build-up, especially in Kayah state in the east and Chin state in the west of the country.
Citing reports of the military using civilians as human shields, Bachelet said that state security forces have continued to use heavy weaponry, including airstrikes, against armed groups and against civilians and civilian objects, including Christian churches. Bachelet said she was deeply troubled by the reports of detainees being tortured, and of collective punishment of family members of activists.
“There appear to be no efforts towards de-escalation but rather a build-up of troops in key areas, contrary to the commitments the military made to ASEAN to cease the violence,” she added.
The UN rights commissioner appealed to intensify regional diplomacy by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other influential States. Bachelet urged them to insist on the immediate cessation of violence and ongoing human rights violations. She will update the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Myanmar on July 7.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s ministry of information, now controlled by the military, has said that the anti-corruption commission has inspected corruption cases against the ex-state counsellor. “She was found guilty of committing corruption using her rank,” the ministry said on Thursday.