Possibility of bloodshed as Myanmar troops reportedly moving to cities
UN independent investigator on Myanmar said on Wednesday that hardened troops are being deployed from a number of border areas in northern Rakhine to some cities, raising the possibility of bloodshed and a tragic loss of life. The initial restraint of police dealing with citizen opposition to the coup has moved on in some instances to using rubber bullets, water cannons, and firing ammunition.
Troops are moving to some populated cities, confirms special rapporteur
Special rapporteur Tom Andrews confirmed to The Associated Press that some troops are moving to some populated cities where the government is still fighting a Rohingya insurgency after a 2017 military crackdown that led 700,000 members of the Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
Protesting people know what the military troops can do
The people of Myanmar understand what the military and these generals are capable of, and so their presence and where these troops are coming from makes him very nervous, Andrews added. He acknowledged the courage of the Myanmarese people who despite knowing the past actions of the military, are still protesting the February 1 coup that ousted the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
People are waiting for the international community to act
Tensions are extremely high, Andrews said. The population of Myanmar has responded vigorously, and they want to see action. He said three-quarters of civil servants are on strike, all private banks are closed, and the people have weakened the economy significantly from the inside. Andrews said they are looking for the international community to act.
Tough economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure required: Andrews
The former Democratic Congressman from Maine, who served as General Secretary of the Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Suu Kyi and People of Burma in 2001, said the most important thing the international community can do is focused, targeted, tough economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.
Biden administration announced first round of US sanctions last week
Andrews said a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on the generals and an arms embargo on Myanmar would be terrific, but even if that's not possible there are many other options including coordinating economic sanctions which have a much greater impact. "The Biden administration announced the first round of US sanctions last week and promised more depending on what happens," he said.
China's leverage on Myanmar and the role it can play
Andrews said neighbor and ally China, which has a great deal of leverage on Myanmar, can play a very important role. "Behind the scenes pressure from China would be very, very useful," he said. "They've made some very helpful public statements, so I'm hopeful that they are going to continue to play a constructive role in respect to Myanmar," he said.
No good reason to explain why generals carried the coup
Andrews, who was also a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network, said he has not been able to come up with a good reason explaining why the generals carried out the coup.
New charges against Suu Kyi ridiculous: Andrews
About the new charges against Suu Kyi, he said, every time the regime opens its mouth it just demonstrates how isolated and insulated they are, because these charges and statements are just ridiculous. He said, the military, known as the Tatmadaw, don't even pretend to have a fair trial, pointing to Suu Kyi's secretive hearing which her lawyer wasn't informed about until it started.
Andrews slams it as a 'sham trial'
"You have 8.6 million voting irregularities, supposedly, unsubstantiated, and then you come up with possession of walkie-talkies as the charge, and now additional charges being piled on top of it," he said. "This is a sham trial," added Andrews.
The military violated the laws made by them, Andrews says
Andrews said what's extraordinary is that the military had enormous economic power that was guaranteed, very little accountability, control over significant branches of the government, and 25 percent of seats in Parliament which meant the constitution the generals wrote could never be changed. "What's amazing is that they violated the laws and the rules that they themselves set," he said.Share this timeline