Divided UN Security Council condemns Myanmar junta—again

The junta was condemned by all but two members of the UN Security Council on August 23 for its “unrelenting violence” across Myanmar over the past months, but Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UN said more than words were necessary to stop the regime from committing atrocities, The Irrawaddy reports.

Only China and Russia, which can veto resolutions, did not sign the joint statement from the 15-member council.  Both are close allies of the regime. They supply it with weapons as well as protection from UN Security Council resolutions.

“The last months have seen unrelenting violence across Myanmar. We strongly condemn the killing of civilians and in particular the continued use of airstrikes, and reaffirm the need to respect international law and protect civilians,” the statement reads.

“More than two and a half years since the state of emergency imposed by the military in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, we remain deeply concerned at the situation in Myanmar and its impact on the people of Myanmar,” the Security Council members said.

The statement was read by United Kingdom deputy UN ambassador James Kariuki. Diplomats from the 12 other Security Council members who signed the statement joined him. More than 18 million people in Myanmar need humanitarian assistance, 2 million have been displaced, and over 15 million people face food insecurity, Kariuki said. “Food insecurity” is often used as a euphemism for “hunger.”

The junta’s military continues to accelerate the pace of airstrikes amidst rising armed and civil resistance to its rule in Myanmar, more than two-and-a-half years after seizing power in a coup on February 1, 2021. Most of its targets and victims are civilians, detailed reports from rights groups say.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British research group, counted an average of 49 airstrikes per month by the junta’s military from January through April, about 25 percent higher than the 39 monthly average last year.

At least 42 airstrikes were unleashed on Kayah State alone in July.

In response to the regime’s escalating use of airstrikes, Washington expanded its sanctions on Myanmar on Wednesday to the jet-fuel sector, adding two Burmese businesspeople and three companies that supply jet fuel to the regime’s military to its Specially Designated Nationals List. It also issued a warning. “Any person determined … to operate in the jet fuel sector of the Burmese economy shall be subject to sanctions,” said Bradley Smith, Deputy Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In the joint statement, the 13 council members said there had been insufficient progress on implementing December’s landmark Security Council resolution on Myanmar and urged the junta to stop killing civilians and end violence in the country.

U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UN, told a press conference after the Security Council released its statement that the landmark resolution had failed to deter the junta from continuing its atrocities against the people of Myanmar.

The Security Council must take decisive action without further delay to save the lives of the people of Myanmar, he said.

“We need to stop the flows of arms, jet fuel, and then financial flows to the military. That [is the] kind of resolution we [would] like to see from the UN Security Council,” he said.

In response to questions from reporters, he declined to name a country that has the power to stop the flow of weapons and jet fuel to the junta’s military.

All UN member states are responsible for saving the lives of the people of Myanmar, he said.

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