UN Assembly Adopts Resolution to 'Prevent Flow of Arms' Into Myanmar

The resolution also calls for the release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and all who have been 'arbitrarily detained, charged, or arrested' in Myanmar.

UN Assembly Adopts Resolution to 'Prevent Flow of Arms' Into Myanmar

The U.N. General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution calling on Myanmar’s military to restore democratic rule, and urging member states to “prevent the flow of arms” to the country, where security forces have killed more than 800 people – mostly protesters – since a Feb. 1 coup.

Four of 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand – abstained from the vote, again showing divisions within the bloc on how to deal with the Burmese junta that overthrew an elected government on Feb. 1.

The resolution “calls upon the Myanmar armed forces to respect the will of the people as freely expressed by the results of the general election of 8 November 2020, to end the state of emergency, to respect all human rights of all the people of Myanmar and to allow the sustained democratic transition of Myanmar.”

It also called for the release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and “all those who have been arbitrarily detained, charged or arrested” – some 4,880 people, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, who speaks for the civilian shadow government, said the resolution “falls short of our expectations” because it “did not include the imposition of an arms embargo” on the country, where the military ousted an elected government on Feb. 1.

A total of 119 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Thirty-six U.N. member-states abstained, and 37 were not present for the vote. Belarus was the only country that voted no.

China abstained from the vote, saying it opposes country-specific resolutions, and Russia also abstained, saying the resolution would not contribute to resolving the crisis in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Kyaw Moe Tun said he was disappointed that “it took three months to adopt this watered-down resolution.”

Still, Myanmar’s civilian representative “voted yes because it will to some extent put pressure on the military to stop inhumane acts in Myanmar.”

‘Risk of large-scale civil war’ in Myanmar

A vote on the resolution, which was introduced by Liechtenstein, was postponed last month, as the U.N body tried to garner more support for it, especially from ASEAN, which wanted the arms embargo clause dropped from the draft.

A revised version was adopted on Friday.

The resolution urges U.N. member-states “to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar” in accordance with a Security Council resolution from July 2020 calling for a global ceasefire and de-escalation of violence amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adoption of the resolution is a significant step, because it “send[s] a message that there can be no business as usual with a military junta that murders its own people,” said Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, via Twitter.

Meanwhile, U.N. Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told the assembly that “the opportunity to reverse the military takeover [in Myanmar] is narrowing.”

She was speaking after the vote on the resolution, to brief the assembly about her weeks-long trip to Southeast Asia in the wake of the Myanmar coup. She was not allowed into Myanmar, but observed the situation mostly from neighboring Thailand.

She said “the risk of a large-scale civil war is real” and warned that half the country’s population could sink into poverty by 2022 if the violence continued.

4 ASEAN member-states abstain from vote

The resolution said ASEAN had a central role to play in engaging with Myanmar and facilitating a peaceful solution “in the interest of the people of Myanmar and their livelihoods.”

Still, ASEAN member-states Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand abstained from the vote, showing how divided the regional bloc is.

The U.N. body in it resolution also called on Myanmar to “swiftly implement” the five-point consensus ASEAN hammered out with the Burmese junta chief on April 24.

But ASEAN has made no progress on any of the five points, one of which was the appointment of a special envoy to Myanmar and a visit by an ASEAN delegation to the crisis-ridden country, headed by that envoy.

Aung Thu Nyein, director of the Yangon-based Institute of Strategy and Policy Myanmar, said that ASEAN member states don’t have a unified position on Myanmar issues, “given the fact that most [of its member-] states are not even democratic states.”

Still, the regional bloc can play a part, Aung Thu Nyein told Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister entity of BenarNews.

“I think ASEAN still has a central role in handling the Myanmar crisis. Many countries support ASEAN’s five-point consensus,” Aung Thu Nyein told RFA.

“I think the ASEAN way is not adequate but as many countries are now supporting the five-point consensus … we should stick to that path.”

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

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Myanmar’s Karen Rebels Say 25 Slain Men Were Junta Spies, Not Civilians

“We had to detain these agents to protect the young people,” said a Karen National Defence Organisation spokesman.

Myanmar’s Karen Rebels Say 25 Slain Men Were Junta Spies, Not Civilians

Twenty-five men found dead last week at a bridge building site near Myanmar’s border with Thailand were spies for the military junta, not construction workers as claimed by authorities, a Karen rebel group spokesman said Friday while the political wing of the ethnic group said it would investigate the case.

The Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), an armed group under the Karen National Union (KNU), detained 47 people, including women and children, who were working on a bridge construction site in eastern Kayan state, near the border with Thailand, on May 31, an official military newspaper reported Monday.

According to the military-run Myawaddy newspaper, 22 of the group, including six women and 10 children, were released on June 1 and 9, while the bodies of the 25 remaining captives were found near the Uhu Chaung Bridge on June 11 and 12. One body was burned and six of the men had their hands tied behind their backs, the report said.

A KNDO spokesman released a video Friday saying the slain men were not ordinary construction workers, but military intelligence officers who came to collect evidence of Myanmar youths undergoing military training in KNU territory. Thousands of citizens opposed to the junta that overthrew the government on Feb. 1 have fled to rebel territories on Myanmar's periphery to receive military training.

“We have a lot of evidence, together with photos, that the group that came to build the bridge near Kanelay village was a military intelligence group. We also have videos,” said the spokesman in the video.

“If we didn’t take action against the military agents, all the information about the young Generation Z people and the urban youth who had come to us for training would be exposed. We had to detain these agents to protect the young people,” said the spokesman.

The Irrawaddy, an independent online news outlet, quoted the spokesman for the KNDO chief of staff Major General Nerdah Bo Mya as saying the slain men wore military dress and were from infantry and engineering units.

“We shot some of them dead. But some were killed in shelling by the military,” spokesman Saw Wah Nay Nu was quoted as saying.

“They were not road workers. They had military uniforms and badges. They had military equipment. We seized it all,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“They sent drones every night for a month. We said we could not accept that. But they continued and we have had to do what we are supposed to do as we are fighting a war. It was because they didn’t listen to us,” added Saw Wah Nay Nu

“They always want to carry out area clearance operations. In fact, they have killed a lot of people. They (the victims) belonged to the engineering unit,” said the KNDO spokesman.

The junta’s Southeast Military Command sent a letter to KNU on June 13 urging an investigation and the announced on June 16 that it would investigate the matter, reported the local KIC Karen News outfit.

Padoh Saw Taw Ni, KNU's foreign affairs officer, told RFA that in cases when innocent civilians are killed, KNU follows international and local laws.

"I do not know the details yet. As the statement says, we follow the Geneva Conventions because we work with international organizations,” he said.

Aung Myo Min, human rights minister for the National Unity Government and a longtime human rights activist, says the killing of detainees without a fair trial is unacceptable.

"From a human rights point of view, even if it was during a war, killing without trial is completely unacceptable to us. Civilians should not be killed at all,” he said.

“Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a person is absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of any human rights group,” added Aung Myo Min.

According to The Irrawaddy, heavy clashes between the KNDO and junta troops in the area of the killings from May 31 to the first week of June had driven more than 200 villagers to flee to Thailand.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert. 

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