The world must do more to save Myanmar – The Organization for World Peace
More than a year after the military coup in Myanmar, the international community continues to ignore the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Tatmadaw. In an AAPP briefing, more than 1,500 civilians have been killed and more than 10,000 arrested, with no end in sight to violence: the army chief recently vowed to ‘annihilate opposition forces “terrorists”” according to CNN. Multiple non-violence movements have emerged, but unfortunately none have been successful in their attempts to both stop the junta and obtain international aid. Amid the Ukraine crisis, questions have been raised about why the West supports another white-dominated European country, but refuses to offer help to stop the military coup in Myanmar. Such a refusal by nations such as the United States and Europe to step in and help others, whether through monetary aid or military support, has been a common response throughout history due to indifferent and realistic perspectives.
The Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) that erupted a week after the coup is considered the oldest CDM in the world. Students, doctors, teachers, workers and many others united to protest against the military dictatorship. Furthermore, they specifically called on the international community to respect the principle of the responsibility to protect. The responsibility to protect is an international standard endorsed by all UN member states in 2005, in response to an increase in atrocity crimes such as the Rwandan genocide; as a result, the value of state sovereignty lost international popularity to interventionism. It states that if countries fail to protect their citizens, the UN has a responsibility to intervene and can violate state sovereignty if necessary. According to the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, the responsibility to protect has been invoked in more than 80 United Nations Security Council resolutions and has been instrumental in stopping violence in several cases such as Kenya and the Sierra Leone.
A delicate balance exists between respecting sovereignty and protecting human rights. However, in the case of Myanmar, it is clear that the time for the international community to respect Myanmar’s sovereignty is over and the time for action was yesterday. Political ties and dependence on resources prevent major countries from intervening against Myanmar’s military. Russia is a longtime friend of the country, providing arms and training to the military. China-Myanmar relations are complicated; many interpret China as trying to establish a puppet government. Even so, China has always remained friendly with the junta and is one of the country’s closest allies, also supplying weapons. The Washington Post reported that Russia and China blocked a statement of condemnation a day after the coup.
Sanctions played a key role in the Western response to the takeover. However, as the crisis deepens, it is clear that sanctions are simply not enough. Although the US thinks it can’t do much more, there is: together with the UK, it can call on Russia and China to fully denounce the military and not oppose their veto to condemn the UN. The threat of a veto from China and Russia has played too big a hurdle in presenting solutions to the Myanmar crisis. In the Syrian crisis, China and Russia vetoed 16 different UN resolutions, so no resolution was tabled for Myanmar. Issuing a joint statement is the first step for the UN to enforce sanctions through a resolution, which in turn enables a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar. In addition, the Council should freeze the assets of the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court so that the Court has jurisdiction over all crimes committed against the Burmese people, wherever or wherever. the group. Taking all of these steps will actually put pressure on the junta and force it to respond by stepping down or holding elections.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has also been inactive in responding to the crisis in Myanmar. In April 2021, the organization adopted a five-point consensus on Myanmar, stating that there must be an end to violence, constructive dialogue facilitated by ASEAN, the delivery of humanitarian aid and a visit of the envoy to Myanmar to speak with all parties concerned. However, the implementation of this plan has been incredibly slow in proportion to the atrocities in Myanmar. In March, the Cambodian foreign minister and ASEAN special envoy visited Myanmar, but did not meet with any major stakeholders outside the military regime and did not win any concessions from the army, according to Aljazeera. It took 11 months for this meeting to take place and only on the basis that the condition of a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi was dropped. Notably, ASEAN has banned Myanmar’s military leaders from attending summits or meetings since last October. Although a relatively small step, for an organization known for its policy of non-interference in internal affairs, the exclusion speaks volumes. It is vital that ASEAN maintains this pressure, does not compromise and accelerates the implementation of the five-point consensus.
The world seems unmotivated to intervene in the urgent crisis unfolding in Myanmar. Although the situation is a national problem, its escalation threatens democracy, so the global community must intervene. This also has implications for other countries, as authoritarian rulers or the military elsewhere may look to Myanmar as an example of a successful coup that has had no major international ramifications. What does this say about our world’s commitment to democracy and equality? The people of Myanmar are suffering and although their cries for help go unheeded, they continue to fight for their country. UN member states, the West and ASEAN must combine their half-hearted efforts and introduce uniform solutions other than sanctions to counter the junta’s destruction of what was once a thriving democracy. The future of Burmese democracy depends on it.