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UN Security Council resolution calls for an end to violence in Myanmar

The United Nations Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, demanding an end to the violence and calling on the country’s military rulers to release all political prisoners, including democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. .

The Myanmar military seized power from Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021, arrested her and other officials, and responded to pro-democracy and dissent protests with deadly force that killed several thousand people. and imprisoned more than 16,000.

China and Russia, which have supported Myanmar’s military leaders since the coup, abstained in the UN vote on Wednesday, along with India. The remaining 12 members of the powerful council voted in favor of the resolution.

“Today we have sent a strong message to the military that they should have no doubts: we look forward to the full implementation of this resolution,” UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said after the vote.

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“We also send a clear message to the people of Myanmar that we seek progress in accordance with their rights, their wishes and their interests,” Woodward said.

The only other resolution on Myanmar was adopted by the Security Council in 1948, when the body recommended to the UN General Assembly that it admit the country, then known as Burma, as a member of the world body.

China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, told the council after abstaining in the vote that “there is no quick solution to the problem.”

“Whether or not it can ultimately be resolved properly depends fundamentally, and only, on Myanmar itself,” he said.

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He said that China had wanted the Security Council to adopt a formal statement on Myanmar, not a resolution.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that Moscow did not see the situation in Myanmar as a threat to international security and therefore believed that it should not be dealt with by the UN Security Council.

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Huge domestic public opposition to the military takeover of Myanmar has since turned into an armed resistance that some UN experts have described as “civil war.”

Last month, the Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a rights watchdog organization, said more than 16,000 people had been arrested on political charges in Myanmar since the military coup. Of these, more than 13,000 were still detained.

The association also said that at least 2,465 civilians have been killed since the military took power, though the true number is believed to be much higher.

Negotiations on the draft Security Council resolution began in September. The initial text, seen by the Reuters news agency, called for an end to arms transfers to Myanmar and threatened sanctions, but that language has since been removed.

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Russia and China are among the largest suppliers of weapons to the Myanmar military with missiles, mainly, Moscow-supplied aircraft and warships, planes, guns and armored vehicles purchased from China.

The Burma Campaign UK group welcomed the resolution but said it would “have no practical impact” and that imposing a global arms embargo on the Myanmar military should have been an “obvious first step”.

“The arms supply is not even mentioned in the resolution,” Mark Farmaner, the group’s director, said in a statement.

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“Russia, China and India are using their seats on the Security Council to protect their profitable dubious arms deals with the Burmese military,” he said.

“At the United Nations it might be seen as a diplomatic coup to pass this resolution, but in Burma it will have no impact for people living under a military coup,” he added.

The adopted resolution expresses “deep concern” about the continued state of emergency imposed by the military when they seized power and its “grave impact” on the people of Myanmar.

It also urges “concrete and immediate actions” to implement a peace plan agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and calls to “defend democratic institutions and processes and seek constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people.

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry said Thursday it welcomed the resolution and expressed support for ASEAN’s role in seeking a “peaceful solution to the situation in Myanmar.”

“Malaysia will work closely with ASEAN and external partners to ensure these efforts progress in the interest of the Myanmar people,” the ministry said in a statement.

The resolution also stresses the need for “a peaceful, genuine and inclusive process to reduce violence and reach a sustainable political resolution.”

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Stresses the need to address the crisis in Rakhine State and create the conditions for the return of Muslims from the Rohingya ethnic minority who were expelled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar in a brutal military operation in August 2018 , which the US has described as an act of genocide. .

Some 700,000 Rohingya people still live as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh, while others remain displaced in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents Suu Kyi’s ousted government and still sits on the Security Council, said that while there were positive elements in the resolution, the Government of National Unity, made up of remnants of the Suu Kyi administration, would have preferred a stronger policy. text.

“We are clear that this is only a first step,” he told reporters.

“The Government of National Unity calls on the United Nations Security Council (to build) on this resolution to take additional and stronger measures to guarantee an end to the military junta and its crimes.”

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