Intl community must stop Myanmar military from growing in arrogance

The international community’s lackadaisical response has allowed Myanmar’s military to grow in arrogance and establish a dictatorship. Japan, the United States and Europe should put pressure on the military, with the involvement of China and Russia, and support the people of Myanmar.

The State Administration Council, the military’s decision-making body, has announced the launch of an interim government with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing as the prime minister. A general election will be held by August 2023.

The military apparently intends to use the six-month anniversary of the coup in February as an opportunity to demonstrate its seizure of power and strengthen the governing structure.

The election commission governed by the military has decided, on the grounds of election fraud, to nullify last year’s general election, in which a pro-democracy political party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory.

The scenario of wiping out pro-democracy activists and then holding a general election to establish a military-led government has become clear once again. It can be said that the return to a democratic political regime has become even more distant.

Although Min Aung Hlaing emphasized in a recent speech that the country is stable, this is far from reality. The military and police, which are using violence to suppress people opposed to the coup, have killed and injured these protesters. Military rule has never been supported.

It is the people who have been hit hard by the coup. A civil disobedience movement, in which public servants, medical personnel and others stage work boycotts to show their opposition to the military, combined with a decline in foreign investment, has led to a significant drop in the economy.

Many civilians are reportedly unable to receive proper treatment amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, as military-affiliated hospitals are hoarding oxygen for medical use and other equipment. There are also reports that relief supplies for the displaced that have been sent by other countries have not been delivered due to military interference.

The international community bears a heavy responsibility because, even though the situation in Myanmar has become a humanitarian crisis, it has neglected the situation.

The U.N. Security Council has been in a state of division. While the United States, Britain and other countries have called for sanctions against the military, China and Russia, which have veto powers, have stubbornly opposed such actions. As a result, the council has failed to take effective measures.

If the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar develops into a serious situation or a civil war breaks out, China and Russia will not be able to escape responsibility. It is reasonable for the two nations to use their influence to pressure the Myanmar military and urge it to exercise restraint. Japan also needs not only to express “concern” about the military, but also strengthen efforts to reach out to China and Russia.

At a U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, a vote of confidence in Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations will be held. The current U.N. ambassador, who has been dismissed for his opposition to the military, will face off against a new candidate fielded by the military.

As many countries as possible must show their confidence in the current ambassador and their willingness not to accept the military’s outrageous actions.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Aug. 4, 2021.