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Stop weapons supply to Myanmar, rights expert urges

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Conditions have ‘worsened’ in Myanmar following a military coup in February 2021, according to a UN human rights rapporteur.

Weapons exports to the military rulers in Myanmar by UN Member States must stop, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in the country said on Tuesday.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews insisted that these arms had been used against civilians.

He also called for the UN Security Council to convene an emergency session to vote on a resolution to ban this trade.

Transfers ‘shock the conscience’

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“It should be incontrovertible that weapons used to kill civilians should no longer be transferred to Myanmar. These transfers truly shock the conscience,” Mr. Andrews said in a statement.

“Stopping the junta’s atrocity crimes begins with blocking their access to weapons. The more the world delays, the more innocent people, including children, will die in Myanmar.”

Mr. Andrews identified China, Russia and Serbia as countries that have supplied weapons to Myanmar’s military rulers since they seized power in a coup last February.

The weapons include fighter jets, armoured vehicles, rockets and artillery.

Families in the crosshairs

“The people of Myanmar are imploring the UN to act,” said Mr. Andrews. “They deserve an up-or-down vote on a Security Council resolution that will stop the sale of weapons being used to kill them. Too many families are finding themselves in the crosshairs of weapons of war that Member States are supplying. This must end.”

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The report also names countries that have authorized weapons transfers to Myanmar since 2018, a time he said when military atrocity crimes against the Rohingya ethnic minority were widely documented.

It further calls for coordinated action by countries to cut the junta’s access to revenue. 

Mr. Andrews urged the Security Council to take action.

“I appeal to Member States of the UN Security Council who are appalled by the killing of Myanmar civilians to put forward a resolution to stop it,” he said. 

“Transparency matters. The Security Council should consider, at the very least, a resolution to ban weapons that are being used by the Myanmar military to kill innocent people.”

Special Rapporteurs like Mr. Andrews are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on specific country situations or thematic issues.

They operate in their individual capacity and are neither UN staff nor do they receive a salary from the Organization.

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