UN rights chief warns of human rights catastrophe in Myanmar
© WikiMedia (Agência Brasil)
UN rights chief warns of human rights catastrophe in Myanmar

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned Thursday that urgent action is needed to prevent a human rights catastrophe in Myanmar.

The UN Human Rights Office issued a new report documenting serious human rights and international humanitarian law violations. This includes violations of the rights of life, liberty and security of person; freedom of expression; and freedom of peaceful assembly.

Bachelet noted in her speech to the Human Rights Council that, since her last report, the human rights situation in Myanmar has deteriorated. She stated that more than 8,000 individuals have been arrested since the coup. More than 4,700 remain in detention, most of whom are held without due process and without access to legal counsel. There have also been 260 attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel reported since February.

In her speech, Bachelet appealed to “all armed actors to respect human rights and ensure that civilians and civilian structures are protected.” She said that the current situation, which involves more violence between military and ethnic armed groups, raises the “alarming possibility of an escalating civil war.”

Bachelet also called for more action from the international community. Currently, several countries have taken some actions with regard to the coup. The UK has imposed sanctions on Myanmar businessman U Tay Za and his business empire, the Htoo Group, for supporting February’s military coup. In the US, federal judge Zia Faruqui ordered Facebook on Wednesday to produce documents relating to its involvement in anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar. However, Bachelet stated: “The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”

JURIST’s coverage on the Myanmar Coup can be found here.