PCFS to UNHRC: hold Myanmar military junta accountable for bloody protest crackdown

An international movement of grassroots groups of small food producers and food sovereignty advocates urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to take a stronger stance on the political crisis in Myanmar, following the violent clash between the police and protesters on February 28.

The date recorded the highest toll of casualties in one day since the anti-coup protests began – with at least 18 killed and more than 1000 people arrested.

According to the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), the UNHRC and the international community should demand the Tatmadaw’s (Myanmar military) accountability for seizing the country’s democracy and its innumerable human rights violations.

“The UNHRC should reconsider the good faith it has afforded the military junta given its deplorable lashing out at the people to cement its unlawful dictatorship,” said Julie Smit of the PCFS Global Executive Committee.

Smit was referring to the UNHRC resolution “on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar,” which strongly condemned the military coup but urged the Myanmar military to “exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any use of violence” against the protesting Burmese peoples and “to take steps immediately to protect the rights to freedom” of opinion, association, and peaceful assembly.

“Evidently, the Tatmadaw brushed off the Council’s calls and has been using lethal force to subdue the peoples’ protests in the country,” the PCFS official said. She also mentioned the public threat that the military government issued on February 21, 2021.

Smit added that the open firing on protesters reeks of the military junta’s desperation to stay in power amid “indomitable widespread social unrest.” She strongly denounced this “brazen inhumanity” of the Myanmar military.

“We expect no less than the UNHRC to exercise the mandate of defending and upholding human rights in a global phenomenon of intensifying state repression on top of a pandemic. It is not yet too late for the UNHRC to take better action for Myanmar and other countries because lives are at stake,” Smit said, citing the similar situation faced by people’s movements in IndiaThailandBangladesh, and the Philippines among many other countries.

The UNHRC is currently holding its 46th regular session until March 23, 2021.

Smit then called for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained Burmese protesters, including the executive director of one of the Coalition’s network organizations. Chit Win Maung of the civil society organization Myaylatt Generation Institute is among the 51 arrested in Magway. He is one of the leaders coordinating the protests in the region.

The PCFS official also reiterated the Coalition’s call to stand with the Burmese peoples.

“We laud the Burmese peoples’ movement for standing and gaining ground in the face of the fascist military rule. Let us show our support and demand that the Tatmadaw be held accountable for its atrocities,” Smit said. ###

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