Restore Democracy in Myanmar: Stop the Brutal Repression of the People!

The Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) expresses solidarity with the people of Myanmar who are bravely resisting the military coup that reversed the fragile democratic process that was unfolding in Myanmar.

The world is witnessing a brutal crackdown where all kinds of force and intimidation are being used on the nonviolent, civil mass resistance that seeks to restore democratic forces, release from incarceration elected representatives and civil society leaders, and restore civilian rule and processes. The people of Myanmar want an end to the emergency and return to an atmosphere of freedom, peace and genuine stability.

After decades of military rule characterized by brutal atrocities and human rights abuse, especially against ethnic nationalities, the people of Myanmar were beginning to emerge from a climate of fear and intimidation to one where they could build democratic institutions and move toward a federal state. By seizing power forcefully on February 1 2021, the Myanmar military annulled the November 2020 elections just as the new parliament was to convene. Since then, the military regime has been using battle tactics to control opposition to the coup from a massive civil disobedience movement which includes many civil servants and workers on strike.

Protesters lie on the ground after police opened fire to disperse an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, March 3, 2021. Among them, Angel, 19, bottom-left, also known as Kyal Sin, took cover before she was shot in the head. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Many Peaceful Protestors Are Being Killed Every Day

Years of authoritarian control and international sanctions had thwarted economic and social developments in Myanmar that woefully lags behind its South East and South Asian neighbors key social indicators. The people of Myanmar have been deeply impacted by the militarization of daily life, lack of freedoms and poor public infrastructure for essential services.

On March 10, the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the violence against peaceful protestors, and called for an immediate reversal of the military coup and return to civilian power. On March 11, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Thomas H. Andrews, stated in the UN Human Rights Council that the numbers of murders, arbitrary detentions increases every day. Freedoms of association, assembly and expression are destroyed. Since the coup, thousands of people from ethnic minorities have been attacked and displaced. The level of abuse could qualify as genocide. The UNHRC called for an emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar that would propose concrete actions. Andrews statement outlined five options that could be taken immediately:

  1. Stop the flow of funds to the junta, including by imposing targeted sanctions on the Junta’s business enterprises and on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises, the single largest source of revenue to the State of Myanmar;
  2. Impose an international arms embargo;
  3. Ensure accountability for the crimes, through national courts using universal jurisdiction if the Security Council is unwilling to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court;
  4. Work directly with local civil society and aid organizations to provide humanitarian assistance whenever possible;
  5. Deny recognition of the military junta as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar.

The AEPF stands in solidarity with the people’s non-violent resistance and calls for all measures to be taken to urgently end the coup, restore civilian processes in Myanmar, and support the demands of the people of Myanmar for participatory democratic transition and a federal state. •

AEPF is an interregional network of progressive civil society organizations across Asia and Europe.