UN Chief strongly condemns detention of political leaders, transfer of powers to military in Myanmar

Yoshita Singh
·4-min read

United Nations, Feb 1 (PTI) The top United Nations leadership has strongly condemned the detention of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced concern over transfer of powers to the military, calling it a serious blow to democratic reforms in the country.

'The Secretary-General strongly condemns the detention of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders on the eve of the opening session of Myanmar’s new Parliament,” a statement issued by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said on Sunday.

Guterres expressed his grave concern regarding the declaration of the transfer of all legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military and said these developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.

According to media reports, an announcer on Myanmar’s military-owned Myawaddy TV declared on Monday morning that the military had taken control of the country for one year.

Myanmar’s leader Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling party have been detained in an early morning raid, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy (NLD) was quoted as saying in the media.

Guterres underscored that the November 8, 2020 general elections provide a strong mandate to the NLD, reflecting the “clear will” of the people of Myanmar to continue on the hard-won path of democratic reform.

The new parliament was scheduled to convene on Monday.

The Secretary-General urged the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and adhere to democratic norms, with any differences to be resolved through peaceful dialogue.

“All leaders must act in the greater interest of Myanmar’s democratic reform, engaging in meaningful dialogue, refraining from violence and fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

Guterres reaffirmed the “unwavering' support of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.

President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir said in a tweet that he is deeply concerned about developments in Myanmar and called for the immediate release of detained political leaders.

'Attempts to undermine #democracy & rule of law are unacceptable. Military leaders must adhere to democratic norms and respect public institutions & civilian authority,” he said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet joined the world organisation’s leadership in expressing grave concern over the situation in Myanmar, urging “all States with influence” to take steps to prevent the 'crumbling of the fragile” democratic and human rights gains made by the country during its transition from military rule.

'I am gravely concerned about the situation in Myanmar following the removal of the civilian Government and the arbitrary detention of dozens of political leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, activists and others by the military today,” Bachelet said in a statement.

She echoed Guterres’ call for the military leadership to respect the outcome of the elections. She voiced alarm over reports suggesting that at least 45 people have been detained – including elected parliamentarians under confinement – and called for their immediate release.

'There are also disturbing reports of journalists being harassed or attacked, and restrictions on the Internet and social media – which will restrict access to information and freedom of expression at this critical and frightening time for the people of Myanmar,” she said.

Bachelet urged the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar at this time, and 'for all States with influence to take steps to prevent the crumbling of the fragile democratic and human rights gains made by Myanmar during its transition from military rule.' She said given the security presence on the streets in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, as well as in other cities, there are deep fears of a violent crackdown on dissenting voices.

“I remind the military leadership that Myanmar is bound by international human rights law, including to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force,” she said.

Last week, Dujarric had said that the UN Secretary-General was following with 'great concern” recent developments in Myanmar and Guterres had urged all actors to “desist from any form of incitement or provocation, demonstrate leadership, and to adhere to democratic norms” and respect the outcome of the November general election.

“All electoral disputes should be resolved through established legal mechanisms,” the UN chief had said.

Tensions have been rising following the outcomes of the November 2020 general election, in which San Suu Kyi-led NLD claimed an overwhelming victory. However, other political parties disputed the results, alleging the polls were marred by irregularities. PTI YAS RUP AKJ ZH ZH