UN human rights chief urges international community to take ‘targeted action’ against Myanmar junta

UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Volker Türk urged world leaders on Friday to address the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. The country has been under the rule of a military junta since a February 2021 coup. In the Friday statement, Türk said that the country has since “morphed into a never-ending nightmare” for human rights.

In particular, Türk condemned a recent military service law passed by the junta that made all men aged 18 to 35 and all women aged 18 to 27 eligible for conscription into military service without any appeal process. The law has come at a time when the military junta is experiencing bitter defeats in their conflicts against freedom fighters and ethnic militias in the northern portion of the country.

Türk said:

In some places, the military has abducted individuals while in others they have threatened communities with burning their villages unless their young people are made to serve. In Rakhine State, we have heard reports that displaced Rohingya youth are being offered money, food and even citizenship if they join the ranks of those who displaced them years ago.

According to Türk, there have also been reports of torture of political detainees. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a human rights organization dedicated to justice in Myanmar, more than 4,000 people have so far been killed by Myanmar’s military junta since the coup, and upwards of 24,000 have been arrested, charged or sentenced. The UN reports that 1,658 people have died in the military’s custody, at a rate of more than one person per day in the month of January.

Türk asked the international community to take “targeted action” to prevent further atrocities in the country. The actions advocated for by the human rights chief include imposing sanctions to disrupt the supply of military arms, jet fuel, and foreign currency to the country.