New Straits Times

UN: Echoes of Syria in Myanmar’s war of repression


The United Nations rights chief yesterday warned of possible crimes against humanity in Myanmar and said it seemed to be heading towards a massive conflict like the one ravaging Syria.

The UN rights office urged countries to take immediate and decisive action to push the military leaders behind the coup in Myanmar to stop their “campaign of repression and slaughter of its people”.

“I fear the situation in Myanmar is heading towards a full-blown conflict,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commission­er for Human Rights.

“States must not allow the deadly mistakes of the past in Syria and elsewhere to be repeated.”

Ethnic armed rebel groups have meanwhile stepped up attacks on the military and police in recent weeks, raising fears of Myanmar spiralling into broader civil conflict. The military has retaliated with airstrikes that have displaced thousands of civilians.

“The military seems intent on intensifyi­ng its pitiless policy of violence against the people of Myanmar, using military-grade and indiscrimi­nate weaponry. There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011,” Bachelet said, referring to the start of a civil war that in the past decade has killed nearly 400,000 people and forced over six million to flee the country.

“There too, we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessar­y and clearly disproport­ionate force. The state’s brutal, persistent repression of its own people led to some individual­s taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding spiral of violence all across the country.”

Bachelet said her predecesso­r Navanethem Pillay had warned in 2011 “that the failure of the internatio­nal community to respond with united resolve could be disastrous for Syria and beyond”.

“The past 10 years have shown just how horrific the consequenc­es have been for millions of civilians,” she said.

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