Stop bloodbath in MyanmarSouth Asian countries that swear by democracy need to speak up.
It was a gloomy weekend in Myanmar as the military junta went on a rampage, killing civilians indiscriminately, conducting air raids and even opening fire on mourners gathered for the funeral of a slain civilian. Cellphone and CCTV video footages show soldiers firing recklessly at citizens minding their own business. Chilling narratives of children and elderly alike being picked up by the military, only to be returned as corpses the next day, are coming out on social media. The military junta has not been tamed at all nearly a decade after Myanmar adopted the democratic process.
While there is considerable global outrage against the criminal suppression of democratic rights in Myanmar, global powers have done precious little to restrain the military and help stop the massacre. As Reuters reported, the UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar said the junta was carrying out 'mass murder', and called on the world to isolate the military and halt its access to weapons. UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday expressed shock at the killing of the civilians, and called for a ‘firm, unified & resolute international response’.
That the 'mass murder' is being organised in the neighbourhood should be of concern for South Asian countries that swear by democracy. In fact, most South Asian countries have been a disappointment when it comes to putting the Myanmar junta in the dock vis-à-vis the desecration of democracy there. On Saturday, the bloodiest day in the country after the military took over, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan sent representatives to attend the Myanmar Armed Forces Day military parade in Naypyitaw even as the military reportedly killed 114 innocent civilians.
Nepal has failed to even speak a word ever since the government issued a half-hearted press statement on February 1, the day the military took over. Being a responsible member of the South Asian neighbourhood, Nepal has much more to do in terms of holding the Myanmar military junta accountable for grave acts of human rights violation. In fact, Nepal has previously abstained from voting on the UN resolution on the violation of the human rights of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar government and military. Above all, it is incumbent upon Nepal, as a UN Human Rights Council member, to defend the Myanmar civilians’ rights to life, freedom and dignity.
Today, representatives of the same government that oppressed the minorities have been put under arrest by the military. Myanmar's democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been a disappointment for her inability to protect the rights of the people in the past several years after she came to power. But that does not mean Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders should be left to fend for themselves when they are becoming victims of the military's high-handedness.
The Myanmarese have shown immense grit in the face of a brutal military crackdown even as over 400 of them have lost their lives while over 2,000 have been arrested and many others maimed. The Myanmarese deserve utmost support of pro-democracy forces all over the world. The rights of the Myanmarese to fight for democracy and peace must be protected, and the global community should come out strongly against the Myanmar junta's criminal oppression and massacre of the people.