UN human rights experts today expressed concern over the plight of human rights defenders in Myanmar and called for a stronger international response to the military coup, including coordinated sanctions and an arms embargo against the junta by forming an “emergency coalition of nations”.
Myanmar’s brutal force campaign of terror continues to be directed against human rights defenders, said Mary Lawlor, UN special rapporteur. And Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur, lamented Myanmar’s human rights situation in a statement.
The experts highlighted the credible information they had received regarding human rights defenders in Myanmar forced into hiding after receiving arrest warrants against them.
Their homes were searched, their property seized and their family members threatened and harassed. Many others, unable to flee, were arbitrarily arrested, including labor rights defenders and student activists, the statement said.
Even lawyers representing people detained in the aftermath of the coup have themselves been arrested, as have journalists covering the protests.
“For years, human rights defenders have done essential work in promoting human rights in the country,” Lawlor said.
“Since the coup, and despite the forced internet blackouts and difficulties in accessing basic resources, especially for defenders forced into hiding or living in rural areas, they have documented the massive violations perpetrated by the army. As a result, they were targeted, the expert said.
“The people of Myanmar appreciate the expressions of concern from the international community, but what they desperately need is action. Nations must stand by and for the besieged people of Myanmar who are being held hostage. by an illegal military junta, ”Andrews said.
“It is time for strong, targeted and coordinated action that includes economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the junta,” Andrews added.
Women have played a leading role in the protest and civil disobedience movement that has emerged in the country in response to the military seizure of the state apparatus in February, and experts have expressed concern particular to the situation of women human rights defenders in the country.
“Their courage to continue to denounce human rights violations perpetrated by the military against the people of the country, in the face of threats of gender-based violence and the enormous risks to their security, is astounding,” Lawlor said. .
“Women human rights defenders are particularly at risk in remote rural areas and are often beaten and kicked before being sent to prison where they can be tortured and sexually abused without any medical treatment,” added Lawlor.
More than 892 men and women have been killed since the coup. “More determined and unified international solidarity with human rights defenders in Myanmar is needed to prevent further attacks,” Andrews also said.