There are events unfolding in Myanmar now that ought move the international community to concerted action against the generals who now control that troubled nation — and who gave orders for their troops to open fire on unarmed protesters. That the latest civilians killings occurred on Myanmar’s Armed forces Day serves as a mockery to those who wear those uniforms.
The generals took power on February 1 to end what they say was a government of the party of Aung San Suu Kyi that was illegitimately elected through fraudulent ballot box returns. The reality is far different — it is the actions of a military that has been isolated and made less relevant by the electorate of Myanmar that led these officers to give orders to seize power.
Since then, Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders have been held in custody on charges that are spurious at best — even if the Nobel Prize winner has herself strained moral credulity with her handling of the Rohingya crisis over the past three years.
Since taking power, the soldiers who started first with non-lethal crowd control measures, have escalated to live rounds. On Saturday, more than 100 people died across Myanmar when the military opened fire — the death toll over the past eight months stands at more than 440 but figures are hard to verify. The toll may well indeed be far higher. Shooting at ordinary people for expressing their support for a democratically elected government is unacceptable.
The junta has purposely used the guise of electoral fraud to seize power, that the attention of the world was focused on fighting the coronavirus pandemic merely served their purpose. Clearly, the international community cannot let this reign of terror continue without consequence — and nor must it use the pandemic as a reason for inaction.
As a matter of urgency, the United Nations Security Council must unite and quickly decide a comprehensive range of sanctions that isolate the junta and deprive it of outside support. The generals of Myanmar must not have any access to weapons or the ability to repress in people through the force of arms.
Already, the chiefs of defence from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, UK and the US have united to condemn the generals. The EU too. But now is not the time for words. Actions speak far louder.