Ahead of this weekend’s G7 leaders’ summit, the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) calls on the group to fill the vacuum left by the UN and Asean and take decisive action to defend democracy and human rights in Myanmar.
This weekend, leaders of the G7 nations will hold a three-day summit. The G7 group consists of the UK, the US, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy. These seven states will be joined for this meeting by Australia, India and the Republic of Korea and representatives of the EU.
Meanwhile, as these democratic states meet, the military junta in Myanmar continues to wage its campaign of terror against the people, cracking down on the democracy movement across the country with extreme violence and fuelling a man-made humanitarian catastrophe.
Despite the gravity of the situation, the UN secretary general has not yet travelled to Myanmar or the Southeast Asia region. The UN Security Council is paralysed, prevented from taking intervening measures, including targeted sanctions and arms embargos, by permanent members China and Russia.
Asean has been given the lead role in responding to the crisis by the international community, but to date it has failed entirely to deliver on moving the situation forward.
The G7 must fill the vacuum left by the UN and Asean with decisive action on Myanmar.
“G7 members have been leading the way with targeted sanctions against the junta’s business enterprises,” SAC-M’s Yanghee Lee says. “However, there is a glaring omission: the massive revenues the junta receives from oil and gas companies, including France’s Total and the US’ Chevron. Without cutting off this billion-dollar income, all other sanctions will be in vain. SAC-M is calling for a global three cuts strategy against the junta: cut the weapons, cut the cash, cut the impunity.”
“Leaders should use the G7 summit to apply pressure on Asean to step up to the plate,” SAC-M’s Marzuki Darusman says. “This means engaging with all stakeholders, including the National Unity Government.”
“With the support of the people through their elected representatives and representative organisations, the National Unity Government is the legitimate government of Myanmar,” SAC-M’s Chris Sidoti says.
“Not only this, but the broad coalition formed among the people that the National Unity Government represents has the potential to end the decades of civil war and military oppression in Myanmar.
“G7 leaders must stand against authoritarianism, refuse to give any legitimacy to the junta and recognise the National Unity Government.”
SAC-M also calls on the G7 to increase desperately needed cross-border humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.
To reach those in need and avoid being exploited by the junta, assistance must be directed through the National Unity Government, existing local structures, civil society networks and ethnic administrations.
Official development assistance should be immediately re-directed away from the junta or government agencies under the control of the junta and instead directed to the National Unity Government and civil society. – SAC-MOfficial development assistance should be immediately re-directed away from the junta or government agencies under the control of the junta and instead directed to the National Unity Government and civil society. – SAC-M
Yanghee Lee is the former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who held the mandate from 2014 to 2020
Marzuki Darusman is the former chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFMM)
Chris Sidoti is a former member of the FFMM
In 2018, the FFMM called for the investigation and prosecution of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In 2019, the FFMM exposed the extent to which the Myanmar military uses its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to sustain its operations and called for immediate targeted sanctions and arms embargoes.