Human rights-related crimes intensifying . . .
Nicholas Koumjian, head of the UN's Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar (IIMM), presented the group's latest human rights report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday. The report found increasing evidence of the military government committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, torture, deportation and forcible transfer, persecution, and imprisonment. The report also emphasizes sexual and gender-based crimes against women and children, which are often under-reported. Although the IIMM was established in 2018 to gather evidence of international crimes following the military crackdown in Rakhine State, Koumjian explained that crimes after the February 2021 military coup have become a “major focus” of the IIMM's work.
Suggestions to shift the narrative . . .
Protests and civil resistance efforts that emerged after the coup turned into an armed rebellion, insurgency, and “civil war,” as the exiled National Unity Government (NUG) organized the People’s Defense Force in May 2021. A year later, civil protests, riots, and armed resistance continue, with more than 11,000 fatalities recorded from January to June 2022. In light of the war's persistence, some critics have called for a change to the international narrative: rather than talking about “restoring” Myanmar to its “democratic path,” which many see as an unsustainable compromise, there should be a fuller recognition that the country is in a civil war and that both the military government and resistance will accept nothing less than a changed system.
ASEAN, UN urged to do more . . .
Efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “assist Myanmar’s return” have yielded few concrete outcomes. While individual countries have tried to respond to the violence in Myanmar, many have called upon ASEAN and the UN to take action. Two developments are expected with the UN General Assembly opening on Tuesday. First, an inquiry by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights will be presented to the Malaysian Foreign Minister to push ASEAN to take a stronger stance; second, the UN will deliberate Myanmar’s UN representation. While there has been implicit endorsement of the NUG, observers have called on the UN to explicitly accept the NUG to send a signal of solidarity to the people of Myanmar.