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UN Rights Chief Condemns Wholesale Repression of Human Rights in Myanmar

FILE - High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk speaks at a press conference at the U.N. Offices in Geneva, Dec. 9, 2022.
FILE - High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk speaks at a press conference at the U.N. Offices in Geneva, Dec. 9, 2022.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk is condemning the increasing brutality and wholesale repression of Myanmar’s military leaders to maintain their iron grip on power.

United Nations rights chief Volker Türk says Myanmar has plunged ever deeper into crisis since the military launched a coup against the country’s democratically elected government nearly two years ago, on February 1, 2021.

Türk spokesman Jeremy Laurence says the country has undergone a wholesale regression in human rights. He says violence has spiraled out of control in total disregard of the military’s legal obligations to protect civilians under international law.

“Far from being spared, civilians have been the actual targets of attacks—victims of targeted and indiscriminate artillery barrages and air strikes, extrajudicial executions, the use of torture, and the burning of whole villages," Laurence said.

At least 2,890 people reportedly have died at the hands of the military. However, the U.N. human rights office believes that number to be grossly underestimated. It reports military action against the civilian population has displaced 1.2 million people, while violence and persecution have forced some 70,000 others to flee the country.

Türk says there is no easy way out of the catastrophic situation. In a statement released Friday, he said Myanmar’s generals have treated the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ five-point consensus to seek a peaceful solution in Myanmar with disdain.

Laurence says the high commissioner has identified other measures as crucial for resolving the crisis. They include the release of all political prisoners, among them State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint.

“Restoring respect for human rights is a key to ending this crisis, to end the situation where Myanmar’s generals are trying to prop up through brute force a decades-old system in which they answer to no one but themselves. Those responsible for the daily attacks against civilians and the human rights violations must be held accountable," Laurence said.

Last month, the U.N. Security Council adopted a rare resolution on Myanmar, the first in more than seven decades, demanding an “immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country.”