Urgent call to support the people of Myanmar

1 November 2021

The situation in Myanmar continues to be of grave concern to the Socialist International and its members, and requires the urgent attention of the international community. Millions in the country are in need of life-saving assistance and protection, faced with conflict and oppression, food insecurity, and the devastating effects of natural disasters and Covid-19. This predicament has worsened dramatically since the seizure of power by the military in February and subsequent repression of protestors, opposition figures and minority ethnic groups.

There is strong evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the military regime in Myanmar. This has once more manifested itself in recent military assaults on Chin state in the north-west of the country, where the majority-Christian population is under sustained persecution.

The targeting of Christians in north-western Myanmar is strikingly similar to the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Burmese military against the Rohingya Muslim population of Rakhine state in 2017, and is once more causing death, destruction of property and livelihoods and internal displacement. These aggressive and tyrannical actions are intensifying and have the potential to escalate into a civil war. Further international action is required to protect the civilian population from violence and deliver humanitarian aid. This must be accompanied by efforts to ensure that power is returned to the democratically elected government of Myanmar.

We recognise the unprecedented step taken by the Association of South Eastern Nations (ASEAN) to block the participation of the illegitimate military leadership at its recent regional summit. As previously noted by the SI, the people of Myanmar require the assistance of the international community in order to place pressure upon the military to end violence and respect the will of the electorate.

Since the coup, the military has imprisoned more than 7000 people, including children. Despite recent promises of a major release of political prisoners, these have to date been extremely limited in scope with total lack of clarity on who will be freed and the terms of their release. Those detained continue to face inhumane conditions, torture and a denial of fundamental legal rights. Among the political prisoners are Myanmar’s elected President, Win Myint, and State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, who are both currently being tried behind closed doors.

No one in Myanmar should be above the rule of law, least of all those responsible for the atrocities and human rights abuses committed across the country that have taken an almost unfathomable toll in terms of the physical injuries and loss of human life, and the emotional and psychological trauma. The leaders of the military junta who have ordered and authorised these actions must be held to account alongside those responsible for carrying out these crimes against humanity.

The Socialist International reiterates its full solidarity with the people of Myanmar who have been victims of so many atrocities, and its profound sadness at the intense humanitarian suffering caused and exacerbated by the Burmese military forces.