The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has warned against intensifying violence in Myanmar.
While issuing the warning on Friday June 11, 2021, Michelle condemned the army’s “outrageous” use of heavy weapons. She called for a wider diplomatic effort to pressure the ruling generals.
Bachelet said the junta had shown no willingness to implement a five-point consensus it agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to halt violence and start a dialogue with its opponents.
Bachelet, whose requests to visit Myanmar in April were denied, said there were credible reports that in Kayah State, civilians were being used as human shields and the army was shelling homes and churches, which had forced more than 108,000 people to flee, with little food, water or sanitation, and humanitarian access was blocked.
“There appear to be no efforts towards de-escalation but rather a build-up of troops in key areas, contrary to the commitments the military made to ASEAN to cease the violence,” Bachelet said in a statement.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, unleashing daily protests and strikes that have paralysed the economy, and fighting in borderlands between the armed forces and ethnic minority guerrilla forces and militias.
Bachelet encouraged the intensification of diplomacy, including from influential states, and said dialogue was urgently needed with all political stakeholders, including a shadow government made up of opponents of military rule.
“The international community needs to unify in its demand that the Tatmadaw cease the outrageous use of heavy artillery against civilians and civilian objects,” Bachelet said.
“The military leadership is singularly responsible for this crisis, and must be held to account.”
She also said newly formed civilian forces, known as People’s Defence Forces, and other armed groups, must take all measures to keep civilians away from harm.