Swiss call for ‘concrete’ UN Security Council action on Myanmar

Anti-coup protests continue in Myanmar amid intensifying violent crackdowns on demonstrators by security forces. Keystone / Lynn Bo Bo

Switzerland has called for “concrete measures” by the United Nations Security Council on Myanmar during a debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.

This content was published on March 11, 2021 - 19:21

It was taking part in an “interactive dialogue” at the UN rights council with Thomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, and other states.

Andrews told the council that the military junta had "murdered" at least 70 people since its February 1 coup, perpetrating killings, torture and persecution that may constitute crimes against humanity. Over half of those killed were under the age of 25, he added.

More than 2,000 people have been unlawfully detained since the military seized power and the violence is steadily increasing, according to the investigator.

Chan Aye, permanent secretary of Myanmar's foreign affairs ministry, replied that the authorities had been focused on maintaining law and order. "The authorities have been exercising utmost restraint to deal with violent protests," he said.

China and Russia - which have close ties to Myanmar's military - called for steps toward reconciliation, while also upholding the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.

Andrews, meanwhile, called for imposing multilateral sanctions on the junta leaders and on the military-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. "Sanctions will only be truly effective if they are unified and coordinated," he said.

Growing concerns

In recent weeks, western governments and experts have voiced growing concerns about the situation in Myanmar. On March 6, Christine Schraner Burgener, the Swiss Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Myanmar tweeted that “the use of force against peaceful protestors may amount to serious human rights violations or crimes against humanity in Myanmar”. The Geneva-based Independent Investigative Mechanism for MyanmarExternal link is collecting evidence to facilitate criminal prosecutions, she added.

On Thursday, Switzerland said it supported the UN Special Rapporteur’s calls. Switzerland is worried about the “violent repression carried out these past few days” and the “illegal use of force” against peaceful protestors, Félix Baumann, a senior official at the Swiss mission to the UN in Geneva, declared.

Switzerland condemned the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and called for civilian authorities to be re-established and for people who had been arbitrarily detained to be freed.

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