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Russia, China protecting own interests; thwarting global response to Myanmar coup: EU

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Brussels | April 12, 2021 7:43:44 AM IST
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday it was "no surprise" that Moscow and Beijing were blocking efforts at the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo as the international efforts to halt the violence in Myanmar is yet to yield results.

"The world is horrified by the bloody military coup in Myanmar, with reports of more than 80 people killed in Bago last Friday. We are pursuing a robust diplomatic initiative in close coordination with like-minded partners. However, geopolitical competition in Myanmar makes it difficult to find common ground, to halt the violence and ensure a return to democracy," Borell wrote in a blog post.

The bloc's foreign policy chief further stated that even in the face of "such brutality", geopolitics divides the international community and hampers a coordinated response.

Borell noted that Myanmar's location makes it a strategic point for China's Belt and Road Initiative (offering deep-sea access to the Indian Ocean), but also to India's own corridor to the South China Sea. Other countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore also have strong economic interests in Myanmar. And Russia is the country's second supplier of weapons, after China.

"Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Russia and China are blocking the attempts of the UN Security Council, for example, to impose an arms embargo. China is keen to protect its strategic interests in the country and has called the coup 'a major government reshuffle', while Russia insists that it is a purely 'domestic matter'," he said.

He also stated that the situation in the country is complicated by Myanmar's highly diverse and complex ethnic fabric: there are 135 recognised ethnicities within its borders and some, like the Rohingya, are not even recognised. The conflict between ethnic minorities and the central government has been going on since independence, he pointed out.

Borell called on the bloc to play an active role adding that the bloc "cannot accept that a democratically-elected government is overthrown and replaced by military rule."

Despite the bloc, the US and the UK have imposed sanctions on the junta, he said that "Sanctions in itself are not a policy" and called for a "need to create a shared diplomatic platform to kick-start a process of dialogue aimed at restoring democracy in Myanmar, in accordance with the clear will of its brave people."

Over 80 people were killed in Myanmar's central town of Bago on Friday as military and police forces continue their crackdown against protestors using heavy weapons, NHK reported citing a human rights group.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group and Myanmar Now news outlet said on Saturday that 82 people were killed on Friday during the protest against the February 1 military coup in the country.

Military and police forces began attacks on the protestors early Friday morning, using guns, bombs, and other heavy weapons, causing many casualties. The human rights group says that as of Saturday, 701 people have died since the military coup.

On February 1, Myanmar's military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests met by the deadly violence, resulting in hundreds of people having been killed since then.

Protests broke out in Myanmar against the coup. People hit the streets in various streets, demanding the restoration of civilian government. In response, the security forces have used rubber bullets and live rounds to break up rallies and detained thousands of activists.

International powers have voiced anger and dismay at the junta's brutal approach and imposed sanctions on key officials. (ANI)

 
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