As we have been reporting in the Trends Journal, since 1 February, tens of thousands of protesters in Myanmar have taken to the streets to fight for democracy after a military coup overturned recent election results and arrested the civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who reportedly won by a landslide this past November.
Since the coup, about 860 people—many young, unarmed protesters—have been killed in the uprising. The casualties even included young children. And as we have noted, the death toll due to the country’s crumbling health care system is even greater than the violence the protesters face. (See: “PROTESTS CONTINUE, POVERTY RISING”)
Hundreds die each week because surgeries are not being performed due to striking doctors.
The United Nations General Assembly—in its toughest rebuke yet—demanded that the junta end the takeover and stop the killing. This is only the fourth time in decades that the UN passed a resolution to condemn a coup. Al Jazeera reported that the UN body came just short of calling for a global arms embargo.
The resolution called on Myanmar’s armed forces to release Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other detained politicians. The resolution also called for the release of “all those who have been arbitrarily detained, charged or arrested.”
“We cannot live in a world where military coups become a norm,” Secretary General António Guterres said. “It’s totally unacceptable.”
The nonbinding resolution condemning the coup was approved by 119 countries on Friday. Thirty-six countries abstained, including China, Russia, and Mali. Belarus—which is reportedly a major arms supplier for the country—voted against the resolution. Anthony Nelson, an analyst at the Albright Stonebridge Group business strategy firm, told Al Jazeera that the vote fell short of expectations held by some protesters.
Olof Skoog, the European Union’s ambassador to the UN, said the E.U. is “proud of the resolution.”
“It sends a strong and powerful message. It delegitimizes the military junta, condemns its abuse and violence against its own people and demonstrates its isolation in the eyes of the world,” he said.
TREND FORECAST: We maintain our forecast that military rule will continue in Myanmar, and threats by the UN, the United States, and other nations will achieve nothing in terms of bringing so-called “Democracy” to the country.
Indeed, the resolution is non-binding, meaning that is all talk and no action.
Furthermore, the stronger outside countries pressure the Myanmar government – be they in sanctions or supporting rebel movements – the greater the ruling government will strengthen its ties with its Chinese neighbor.
Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry—no doubt emboldened by China’s decision to sit out the UN vote—rejected the resolution on Saturday, claiming that it was based on “one-sided sweeping allegations and false assumptions.”
Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s rogue UN ambassador, voted in favor of the resolution, according to The South China Morning Post. CNN said the ambassador is essentially “flying solo” and not recognized by the junta as its representative.
He has flashed the three-fingered salute before the UN General Assembly in New York and called on the body to “use any means necessary” to restore democracy, the report said.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Tun’s statements are “illegitimate and unacceptable.”
“While Myanmar embraces constructive advice by the international community in addressing the challenges that Myanmar is facing, any attempt infringing on the state sovereignty and interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar will not be accepted,” said in the statement.
The Trends Journal has extensively covered the conflict in Myanmar. (See our 30 March article, “MYANMAR: ANOTHER DAY, MORE BLOODSHED,” and our 13 April article, “MYANMAR MILITARY RAMPS UP ATTACKS ON PROTESTERS.”)