UNITED NATIONS – United Nations authorities demanded respect for human rights and the return of fundamental freedoms in Myanmar, on the eve of the anniversary of the February 1, 2021 coup in that country.
“The armed forces and all interested parties must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The people of Myanmar need to see concrete results,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that “one year after the military seized power, the people of Myanmar, who have paid a high price in lives and freedoms lost, continue to advocate tirelessly for their democracy.”
On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar army, known as the Tatmadaw, staged a coup and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s main civilian leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, President Win Myint, and numerous members of his National League for Democracy (NLD), tried by military courts.
General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, has taken office as chairman of the State Administrative Council that governs the country of 54 million people, also known by its old name of Burma.
“The brutal effort by the security forces to crush dissent has led to the deaths of at least 1,500 people at the hands of the military, and that figure does not include thousands more deaths from armed conflict and violence, which have intensified in recent years. the whole country”: Michelle Bachelet.
In the weeks and months that followed the coup d’état, numerous street protests took place in the main cities, strongly repressed, and guerrillas resurfaced in the border regions, where minority ethnic groups live.
According to Bachelet, “the brutal effort by the security forces to crush dissent has led to the death of at least 1,500 people at the hands of the military, and that figure does not include thousands more deaths from the armed conflict and violence, which are have intensified throughout the country.
He said he had heard “chilling stories of journalists being tortured; factory workers being intimidated, silenced and exploited; intensifying persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, including the Rohingya; and arbitrary arrests, detentions, and sham trials of political opponents.”
Likewise, “cleansing operations” targeting villagers, and indiscriminate attacks, including through airstrikes and the use of heavy weapons in populated areas, “showing great disregard for human life.”
According to OHCHR, at least 11,787 people have been arbitrarily detained for expressing their opposition to the army, in peaceful protests or through their online activities, 8,792 remain in custody and 290 detainees have died, many likely due to the use of torture.
“However, brave human rights defenders and trade unionists continue to protest, defend, document and accumulate the mounting evidence of violations,” Bachelet said.
On your side, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that 1.6 million jobs were lost in Myanmar in 2021, with key sectors suffering significant losses.
Farmers have been hit hard by armed conflict, violence and insecurity. Construction, clothing, and tourism and hospitality were also hard-hit sectors in 2021, with year-on-year job losses estimated at between 27 and 31%.
Work hour and job losses were disproportionately worse for women than for men. Women also accounted for an overwhelming majority of job losses in the garment sector, as well as in tourism and hospitality.
“The military coup and the covid-19 pandemic have put millions of Myanmar workers in a very precarious situation. We are seeing a setback of years and if this continues it can only lead to an increase in poverty and insecurity throughout the country,” said Donglin Li, ILO Representative in Myanmar.
The World Food Program has listed Myanmar among the Asian countries where a food shortage crisis is expected in the coming months.
Guterres said the UN, its agencies and partners such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations “will continue to promote urgent action to meet the desperate needs of the people of Myanmar.”
In that country “any solution must come from the direct participation and careful listening of all those affected by the current crisis. Their voices must be heard and amplified,” added the UN Secretary General.
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The UN calls for freedom in Myanmar a year after the coup