The executions of four political prisoners in Myanmar confirm what was already known. The regime of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Huling will stop at nothing to maintain its hold on the country.
Since its coup in February last year, the military has used terror to assert control: extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters. It has killed civilians, tortured children and condemned the country’s elected leaders to long terms of imprisonment after ridiculous show trials. More than 1,600 people have died, including at least 75 children.
The executions make a political solution to the crisis, which is already dim, almost impossible. The military’s opponents, the People’s Defense Force, have renewed their commitment to using what they have – including strikes, killings and bombings – to overturn military rule. Peaceful protest, once supported by Aung San Suu Kyi, is no longer the way many dissidents work.
Some of the country’s many armed ethnic groups have reportedly started peace talks with the military. However, many others have aligned themselves with the People’s Defense Force, and are providing weapons, protection and training to those fighting against the military regime.
The country is trembling on the brink of civil war. Its current problems – poverty, disease, lack of fuel, food and medicine – have brought the country to a crisis point.
The Western powers seemed shocked by Myanmar’s sudden return to a brutal military dictatorship after nearly a decade of promising new quasi-democracy. In truth, although Myanmar adopted some aspects of multi-party democracy in the 2015 and 2020 nationwide elections, the military retained its role as a central political player.
After 2011, the military launched a brutal civil war campaign against Kachin in the north of the country. In 2016 and 2017, it conducted deadly evacuation operations against the Rohingya in Rakhine state. In both cases it used destructive violence against civilians. No one should have been surprised to see the same method applied to protesters after last year’s coup.
hard words, small actions
The response of Western governments has been weak. Surprisingly, and almost single-handedly in Western countries, Australia still does not ban min aung haling.
In early images of Myanmar after the coup, a crowd of people holding placards begged the Security Council to implement the principle of responsibility for the security of the United Nations by authorizing humanitarian intervention to protect the lives of civilians Shown. But the Security Council is hampered by China and Russia’s support for Myanmar’s generals.
The United Nations General Assembly passed a strong resolution in June 2021 calling for an arms embargo and other measures. But the General Assembly has no power to implement its resolutions. Unlike Ukraine, the people of Myanmar are not provided with weapons to fight for their lives.
Two months ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, attempted to negotiate an end to the crisis. It was not successful. ASEAN’s five-point plan called for an immediate end to violence in the country, dialogue between all parties, the appointment of a special envoy for immediate visit to Myanmar and humanitarian assistance.
After agreeing to the plan, Min Aung Huling announced almost immediately that the military would continue to use violence until the protests stopped. There is no platform to build trust between the parties.
The execution reaffirms those opposing the military that Myanmar’s “spring revolution” is a battle they must win. The cost to Myanmar would be enormous and would be paid for by generations of Burmese people. And countries in the region, including Australia, will also pay the price.
what should australia do
War creates the conditions in which the most serious violations of human rights flourish. When the level of suffering within a country becomes unbearable, it results in an influx of refugees and further exploitation of those vulnerable to practices such as human trafficking. These problems will come to the threshold of Australia. For this reason alone, Australia must do much to help the people of Myanmar.
First, it should impose targeted sanctions on the leaders of the coup, including Min Aung Hling. Other countries imposed targeted sanctions in response to atrocities committed against the Rohingya in 2017. If Australia’s failure to comply was part of a strategy to facilitate the repatriation of Australian economist Sean Turnell, who has been imprisoned in Insane since the coup, then an urgent reconsideration is needed.
Read more: Can the world stop Myanmar from becoming a failed nation?
Second, the Australian government should consider recognizing a national unity government, which represents a democratically elected parliament and those opposed to the coup. The execution of a member of the former parliament confirms, if confirmation was necessary, that the military has no claim to legitimate rule.
Finally, Australia must ensure its humanitarian response to a crisis in the region is at least matched by the generosity of its response to Ukraine, and that aid and relief funds are channeled through a national unity government. is broadcast from