Protesters hold banners as they make the three-finger salute during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, May 12, 2021.
Protesters hold banners as they make the three-finger salute during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, May 12, 2021.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - The U.N. human rights office is calling for more international pressure against Myanmar’s military junta, which it says has continued a brutal crackdown on opponents despite a recent agreement to halt violence and begin dialogue.

Credible sources report at least 782 people have been killed since Myanmar’s military authorities seized control of the country on February 1 and ousted its democratically elected leaders.

The U.N. Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights says the military shows no sign of easing its crackdown on opponents, who remain defiant and continue to protest against the coup leaders.

The High Commissioner’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, said besides killing protesters, military authorities continue to commit other gross violations of human rights against Myanmar’s people.

“There are daily raids on private homes and offices, and more than 3,740 people are currently in detention.  We are deeply alarmed that the whereabouts and fate of hundreds of these individuals are unknown.  These are situations that may amount to enforced disappearances,” he said.

Over the past month, Colville said the military has issued more than 1,500 arrest warrants targeting civil society activists, trade unionists, journalists, and academics, and public personalities. He said military authorities increasingly are taking family members of wanted people into custody to force them to turn themselves in to the police.

He said the international community must put greater pressure on Myanmar’s generals to abide by a five-point plan they agreed to at a meeting of the regional bloc ASEAN on April 24. The plan includes a call for an immediate cessation of violence and for a constructive dialogue among all parties to look for a peaceful solution.

Colville said the military leadership is taking no steps to make this happen. 

“As a result, we are seeing a continuation of the violence, a continuation of arbitrary detention and arrests, continuation of--people starting to flee the country.  And, as you say the economy and the whole structure of society being really badly damaged.  When you lose your teachers, your university professors, your civil servants, your journalists, you start to have a really crumbling social structures,” he said.

The U.N. human rights office is calling on ASEAN to react quickly and to intensify efforts to make the military keep its commitments.  It adds the 10 Southeast Asian countries that form this bloc should hold Myanmar’s leaders accountable for failing to do so.

The military has justified its takeover of the country by claiming, without evidence, that the 2020 general election won by the ruling National League for Democracy was riddled with fraud.