Failure to intervene in Myanmar same as giving tacit consent to junta’s rule

The Myanmar junta that took power in a coup is continuing to make its rule an established fact. Failure to intervene on the part of the international community is tantamount to giving tacit consent to the current situation. The United Nations must take the lead to step up pressure on the junta.

During the April summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a five-point consensus was reached on fellow member state Myanmar that included calls for the “immediate cessation of violence,” the start of “constructive dialogue among all parties concerned” and the dispatch of an ASEAN special envoy. However, none of the five points have been achieved.

The junta has unilaterally withheld its implementation of the agreement, saying it would do so after stability is restored in Myanmar. It is clear that the junta is aiming to make the agreement ineffectual.

ASEAN’s involvement was intended to urge the military to exercise restraint, but ended up being used by the junta to buy time to consolidate its governance.

The junta has continued to detain Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of the National League for Democracy who had led the government. An organization launched by pro-democracy figures has been outlawed.

The junta apparently aims to officially solidify its rule by holding a general election after ousting from politics the popular Suu Kyi and the NLD, which won a landslide victory in the general election last November. This only highlights the coup’s lack of legitimacy and support from the people.

Frequent protests in urban areas have been scaled down to avoid casualties from military fire. People refused to go to work as part of a show of disobedience to the junta, but after their livelihoods began to suffer, some have had no choice but to return to work. Schools have also resumed classes.

People have not necessarily approved the current situation even though their everyday lives appear to have returned to normal. In addition to a shortage of supplies, Myanmar recently has seen a rapid increase in novel coronavirus infections involving variants. Neither its COVID-19 vaccination program nor the medical system has caught up with the spike in infections. This is a serious humanitarian crisis.

In rural areas and remote regions, ethnic armed groups and civilians who possess weapons have exchanged fire with the military, fueling fears that the escalating unrest could result in a full-scale civil war. As many as 150,000 people are said to have been displaced by the violence.

The U.N. Security Council, which plays a key role in ensuring international peace and security, should not be allowed to remain a silent observer. A U.N. envoy and international organizations need to visit the country and take action to extend assistance and intervention.

Opposition from veto-wielding permanent UNSC members China and Russia has hampered the implementation of measures that will increase the pressure on Myanmar. Beijing and Moscow should not further undermine the UNSC’s functions. Japan also should speak out at the United Nations.

At a recent summit, the Group of Seven confirmed their unity on the Myanmar issue. Unlike Western countries, Japan has not imposed sanctions on the junta. Shouldn’t Japan consider suspending all official development assistance to Myanmar?

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 21, 2021.