Myanmar military should end its use of violence and respect democracy

The Myanmar military must allow parliament to resume and elected MPs to fulfil their mandate

Myanmar military - Photograph: Wikipedia

The undersigned groups have denounced an apparent coup in Myanmar, and associated violence, which has suspended civilian government and effectively returned full power to the military.

On 1 February, the military arbitrarily detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy.

A year-long state of emergency was declared, installing Vice-President and former lieutenant general Myint Swe as the acting president. Myint Swe immediately handed over power to commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (Section 418 of Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution enables transfer of legislative, executive, and judicial powers to the commander-in-chief).

Internet connections and phone lines throughout the country were disrupted, pro-democracy activists have been arbitrarily arrested, with incoming reports of increased detentions. Soldiers in armoured cars have been visibly roaming Naypyitaw and Yangon, raising fears of lethal violence.

“The military should immediately and unconditionally release all detained and return to Parliament to reach a peaceful resolution with all relevant parties,” said the groups.

The military and its aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had disputed the results of the November elections, which saw the majority of the seats won by the NLD. The arrests of the leaders came just before parliament was due to convene for the first time in order to pick the president and vice-presidents.

Among the key leaders arrested, aside from Aung San Suu Kyi, are President U Win Myint and Chief Ministers U Phyo Min Thein, Dr Zaw Myint Maung, Dr Aung Moe Nyo, Nan Khin Htwe Myint and U Nyi Pu.

The man now in charge of the country, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, stands accused of committing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, raising alarm for the human rights situation, in particular for ethnic minority and Rohingya communities. Military rule also reverses the emerging political openness that occurred in recent years.

The military has remained an influential force in the government, despite changes in the previous decade. “How the military has acted has proven it has never been committed to any democratic change. It has always been interested in preserving power,” said the groups.

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The organisations, comprising diverse civil service organisations and NGOs, call on the Myanmar military to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release all those currently arbitrarily detained
  • immediately restore the internet and all forms of communications, and
  • allow parliament to resume and elected MPs to fulfil their mandate without impediment

The groups also made the following demands to:

  • the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to respond to the situation, including the sending of a delegation to Myanmar, the establishment of a global arms embargo and a referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court
  • the international community to urgently establish a comprehensive response, including targeted sanctions against the military and their partners’ business enterprises; and conditionality on diplomatic, economic and security relations, in order to secure the immediate release of those detained, the protection of civilians including those in conflict zones, the handover of power to a civilian-controlled parliament, and irreversible reforms that put human rights and democracy at the core of governance and prevent recurrence of such power grabs
  • social media companies, in particular Facebook, to suspend the accounts of USDP and military leaders that have used their platforms to spread disinformation, fear, and psychological violence, and
  • Asean leaders, to use all diplomatic leverage to ensure the rule of law is upheld and the will of the people respected

Endorsing organisations:

Agora Society Malaysia
Aliran
All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC)
Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Cambodia
Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI), Indonesia
Altsean-Burma
Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
Asean Youth Forum
Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia)
Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel)
Asian Resource Foundation (ARF)
Association Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (Awam)
Awaz Foundation Pakistan – Centre for Development Services
Backpack Health Workers Team (BPHWT)
Balaod Mindanaw
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum)
Bir Duino, Kyrgyzstan
Buddhist Humanitarian Project
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Center Delhi
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
Burma Medical Association (BMA)
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK – BROUK
Bytes for All, Pakistan
Cambodian Civil Society Partnership (CSSP)
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc)
Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR)
Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD), Thailand
Center for Cambodian Civic Education
Center for Conflict Resolution
Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
Centre for independent journalism (CIJ)
Centre for the Sustainable Use of Natural and Social Resources (CSNR)
Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
Civil Rights Defenders (CRD)
Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia
Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC)
Coordinadora Regional de Investigationes Economicas y Sociales (Cries)
Covenants Watch
Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
Dalit Foundation
Dignity-Kadyr-kassiyet (KK)
East Bago- Former Political Prisoners Network (EB-FPPN)
Foundation for Tolerance Intl, Kyrgyzstan
Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
Future Light Center (FLC)
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)
GPPAC Southeast Asia
GPPAC Caucasus Network Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflicts
GPPAC Central Asia
GPPAC Eastern and Central Africa
GPPAC in the Middle East and North Africa, MENAPPAC
GPPAC Latin America and Caribbean
GPPAC South Asia
GZO Peace Institute
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Human Rights Foundation of Monland (Hurfom)
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
Ichsan Malik Center for Peace and Dialogue (IMC)
Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia
Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), Indonesia
Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), Indonesia
Info Birmanie (France)
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), Indonesia
Inter Pares (Canada)
International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN)
International Legal Initiative Public Foundation (ILI Foundation), Kazakhstan
International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW)
Jagriti Child and Youth Concern Nepal (JCYCN)
JANANEETHI
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT)
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT)
Karapatan Alliance Philippines (Karapatan)
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network – Kaw Thoo Lei
Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN)
Karen Student Network Group (KSNG)
Karen Teacher Working Group (KTWG)
Karen Women’s Organization (KWO)
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR)
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA)
Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP)
Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma)
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Peace and Human Rights Resource Center (PHRC)
Peace Boat
People’s Empowerment Foundation
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
People’s Watch, India
Permanent Peace Movement (Lebanon)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra)
Programme Against Custodial Torture in India (Pacti)
Progressive Voice
Pusat Komas
Radio Rakambia, Timor Leste
Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS)
Salween Peace Park (SPP)
Social Democracy Think Tank (SDTT), Thailand
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (Safenet)
Southeast Asian Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN)
Stefanus Alliance International
Stiftung Asienhaus (Germany)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
Swedish Burma Committee
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
The Relatives Committee of May 1992 Heroes, Thailand
Think Centre
Transcend Pilipinas
Women’s Peace Network
Working Group for Peace (WGP), Cambodia
Yangon Youth Network
Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia (Samin), Indonesia
Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), Cambodia
Young Peoples for Social Democracy (YPD), Thailand

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Endorsing individuals:

Abel da Silva, Member of Parliament, Timor-Leste
Aykan Erdemir, member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFORB) steering group
David Anderson, member of the IPPFoRB steering group
Farahnaz Ispahani, former Member of Parliament, Pakistan
Fernanda San Martin, member of the IPPFoRB steering group
Kasit Piromya, former Member of Parliament, Thailand
Kasthuri Patto, member of the IPPFoRB steering group
Natrah Ismail, Member of Parliament, Malaysia
Tian Chua, vice-president of the People’s Justice Party, former MP

Source: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)

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