Open Letter: The United Nations Security Council’s meeting on Myanmar must lead to firm measures against the junta


Open Letter: The United Nations Security Council’s meeting on Myanmar must lead to firm measures against the junta

To: The Member States of the United Nations Security Council

CC: The United Nations Secretary-General

17 April 2023

Open Letter: The United Nations Security Council’s meeting on Myanmar must lead to firm measures against the junta

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned 546 Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations (CSOs), welcome the United Kingdom’s request for an urgent Security Council discussion on Myanmar to address the illegal military junta’s worst civilian massacre since its failed coup, as well as the junta’s categorical refusal to comply with Security Council Resolution 2669 on Myanmar (December 2022). This “Any Other Business” discussion on 13 April must be followed by a dedicated Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar that leads to punitive measures against the junta under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

On Tuesday 11 April 2023, the illegal military junta in Myanmar launched an aerial attack on a civilian gathering of around 300 people in Pa Zi Gyi Village, Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region. At least 168 people were killed, including 24 women and 40 children. During the attack, a junta’s fighter jet flew over the village in the morning and dropped two bombs on the gathering. It was followed by a junta helicopter gunship that then opened fire on the crowd. Some of the victims’ bodies were so badly maimed they could not be identified. A second attack on the same location was launched by the junta in the evening, with four more bombs dropped, while victims’ bodies were still being retrieved.

The junta’s actions are a flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2669, which demanded “an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country” (OP1). Yet, since the Security Council adopted the Resolution in December 2022, the military junta has only escalated its campaign of terror and violence against the people of Myanmar.

The airstrike on Pa Zi Gyi Village came just one day after junta airstrikes in Va and Waibula Villages of Falam Township in Chin State, which killed nine civilians and destroyed homes and schools.  Throughout March 2023, the junta’s so-called “Ogre Column” has carried out a series of raids on villages in southern Sagaing Region, massacring more than 30 people, including children, and decapitating and dismembering victims’ bodies. On 11 March, junta forces killed 29 civilians, including three monks, at a monastery in Pinlaung Township, Shan State. On 14 and 16 February 2023, the junta’s jet fighters dropped bombs in Mutraw District, Karen State, destroying two rice warehouses and seven schools.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution on Myanmar (A/HRC/52/32) by consensus that condemned the junta’s deliberate, widespread, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilians. The resolution referred directly to the junta’s airstrike against a school in Let Yet Kone Village, Sagaing Region in September 2022 that killed 11 children, and its airstrike one month later targeting a concert in Hpakant, Kachin State, that killed more than 60 people. The Human Rights Council Resolution demanded that the junta immediately cease all air strikes. The junta responded with the April 11 attack on Pa Zi Gyi Village.

At the same time as launching ground and increasing aerial attacks on civilians in many states and regions where the people’s resistance movement has taken strongholds, the junta is deliberately forcibly displacing people and cutting off humanitarian access to vast parts of the country. According to the most recent figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 1.8 million people are now displaced inside Myanmar, but this number of displacements is likely higher. The junta is deliberately fuelling a nationwide humanitarian emergency to advance its political and military agenda.

Excellencies, the military junta has no regard for the lives of the Myanmar people, no regard for the rule of law, and no regard for international peace and security. The junta will not respond to words, only to action. Therefore, we call on the UN Security Council to adopt firm measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to enforce the military junta’s compliance with Resolution 2669. Those measures should include targeted economic sanctions against the military junta, a comprehensive arms embargo including on aviation fuel, and referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal.

Resolution 2669 also calls for “concrete and immediate actions, noting the military’s commitments to ASEAN Leaders, to effectively and fully implement ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus” (OP6). But there will be no progress made towards the implementation of the Five Point Consensus while the junta’s violence continues and its use of airstrikes against civilians increases. If the Security Council does not act now, we fear the crisis in Myanmar will rapidly reach the point of no return.

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Signed by 546 civil society organizations, including 248 CSOs who have chosen to not disclose their name.

Click here for the full list of signatories.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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