Literally a matter of life or death: UN expert urges Myanmar military to cease violence

DN Bureau

An United Nations expert has urged the Myanmar military to honour a pledge made at the ASEAN Summit to an "immediate cessation of violence".

Protest in Myanmar
Protest in Myanmar

New York: An United Nations expert has urged the Myanmar military to honour a pledge made at the ASEAN Summit to an "immediate cessation of violence".

In an open letter to Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, UN-appointed independent expert on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews on Tuesday, wrote: "This is literally a matter of life or death" for those who believe they can freely exercise this right, "without fear of attack."

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing led the coup that brought down the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, on February 1.

The military takeover triggered mass protests which led to violent clashes and brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrators. More than 750 people have been killed over 2.5 months of protests while thousands of others have been detained.

On April 24, Hlaing met leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta where he was urged to immediately halt the "military violence" against protesters and to release detained civilian leaders.

In the letter, Andrews highlighted that at the conclusion of the meeting, Hlaing had "reportedly agreed" to an "immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar."

He said that cessation of violence is an imperative "first step toward ending a crisis" that has already cost more than 750 lives.

"This is an imperative first step toward ending a crisis that has already cost more than 750 lives, including the lives of young children, at the hands of Myanmar's security forces", he wrote.

Since the coup, the people of Myanmar have been holding near-daily peaceful protests across the country calling for the restoration of democracy.

They "need and deserve to know if it is your intention to honour this commitment," said the UN rights expert, who emphasized that this includes the "right to open opposition to your actions, without fear of injury, death or arbitrary arrest".

Andrews also appealed to Myanmar's de facto leader to "promptly and unconditionally release all political prisoners detained since 1 February", reminding Hlaing of the appeals by ASEAN leaders, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

He urged the military leader to immediately accept a visit from the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair and allow the Special Envoy access to "all parties concerned," including Myanmar President Win Myint and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. (ANI)

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