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'Urgent, renewed effort' needed to restore civilian rule in Myanmar: UN rights chief

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Geneva | January 29, 2022 3:50:43 AM IST
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Friday appealed international community to intensify pressure on Myanmar's military to stop its campaign of violence against citizens, and to insist on the prompt return to civilian rule, almost one year after seizing power in a coup.

Bachelet reported that this week she spoke in person with "determined, courageous" human rights defenders who are pleading for the international community not to abandon them, but to take robust effective measures to ensure their rights are protected and that the military is held accountable, the UN said in a statement.

"I urge governments - in the region and beyond - as well as businesses, to listen to this plea. It is time for an urgent, renewed effort to restore human rights and democracy in Myanmar and ensure that perpetrators of systemic human rights violations and abuses are held to account," she said.

The human rights chief said she had heard chilling accounts of violations, such as journalists being tortured; factory workers being intimidated, silenced and exploited; and intensified persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, including Rohingya.

Other reports mentioned arbitrary arrests, detentions and sham trials of political opponents; so-called "clearance operations" targeting villagers; and indiscriminate attacks including airstrikes and use of heavy weaponry in populated areas, the statement said.

Despite this, "courageous human rights defenders and trade unionists continue to protest, to advocate, to document and accumulate the mounting evidence of violations," she said.

Since the military takeover last February, security forces in Myanmar have moved to crush dissent, resulting in at least 1,500 deaths: a figure that excludes the thousands killed in armed conflict and violence which have intensified nationwide.

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, has documented gross human rights violations on a practically daily basis, mainly committed by security forces.

Nearly 12,000 people have been arbitrarily detained for voicing their opposition to the military, either in peaceful protests or online. Some 8,792 remain in custody, and at least 290 have died in detention, many likely due to the use of torture.

A detailed report on the human rights situation will be published in March.

Armed clashes have grown in frequency and intensity, affecting every part of the country, OHCHR said.

In areas with the highest intensity of military activity - namely Sagaing region, as well as Chin, Kachin, Kayah and Kayin states - the army has been punishing local communities for their assumed support of armed elements. The Offfice has documented village burnings, including places of worship and medical clinics, as well as mass arrests, summary executions and the use of torture, read the statement. (ANI)

 
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