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Myanmar Crisis: ‘Terrified’ UN Rights Expert Sounds Alarm Ahead Of Expected Protests


The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human
rights in Myanmar raised has warned of the potential for a
sharp uptick in violence on Wednesday, as protests continue
against the 1 February military takeover of the
government.

Special
Rapporteur
Tom Andrews said in a statement
that he is “terrified” that violence could break out, as
additional soldiers have been deployed in towns and cities,
including the commercial hub Yangon, where demonstrations
are planned, following reports that a “secretive trial”
of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint
began on Tuesday.

“In the past, such troop movements
preceded killings, disappearances, and detentions on a mass
scale,” he said.

“I am terrified that given the
confluence of these two developments – planned mass
protests and troops converging – we could be on the
precipice of the military committing even greater crimes
against the people of Myanmar”, he added.

Mr.
Andrews issued an “urgent call” on all governments,
individuals and entities that may have influence on Myanmar
military authorities to use that influence “to convince
the junta that rallies planned for Wednesday must be allowed
to proceed without detentions or
violence.”

‘Repression must end
immediately’

“Continued repression of the people
of Myanmar’s basic liberties and human rights must end
immediately”, he stressed.

In the statement,
Mr. Andrews also reiterated that those in the chain of
command, regardless of rank, can be
held liable for any atrocities
committed against the
people of Myanmar, and that they “must disobey orders to
attack”.

Of course, we cannot rely on the Myanmar
military to avoid bloodshed out of a moral or legal
obligation alone, he added, underscoring “that is why it
is so imperative that all those with influence demand that
the junta restrain itself from further violence and
arbitrary arrests”.

International business
community urged to act

The Special Rapporteur also called
on the international business community to take “immediate
action”.

He urged them to call their interlocutors
in State Administrative Council – the body set up to
govern Myanmar following the military
takeover
– and to “stress to them that you [the
businesses] will be forced to suspend or cease business in
Myanmar if they continue down this violent
path.”

“Specifically stress to them that under the
UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,
businesses and investors should suspend or terminate
activities with the Myanmar junta when the risk of
involvement in serious human rights abuses can no longer be
reasonably managed”, the rights expert said.

“I,
and many others, would argue we have long passed that
threshold. Please implore them to use restraint. Implore
them to return power to the people of Myanmar”, Mr.
Andrews added.

Tom
Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
in Myanmar. Photo: UN
News

What is a Special
Rapporteur?

Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special
Procedures
of the Human
Rights Council
. Independent of any government or
organization, they work on a voluntary basis. They are not
UN staff members and do not receive a salary.

The
mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in Myanmar
was established by the then
Commission on Human Rights in 1992. It was broadened in 2014
and
2016.

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