UNHRC fears Myanmar crisis may escalate into a civil conflict like Syria

The United Nations Human Rights Commission expressing concern over the military clampdown in Myanmar said it fears that the escalation may lead to Syria-like civil conflict in the country.

Warning of a possible crime against humanity, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday urged countries to take immediate, decisive and impactful measures to push Myanmar’s military leadership and stop its “campaign of repression and slaughter of its people.”

The Commission asserted that the military seems to intensify its pitiless policy of violence against the people of Myanmar, using military-grade and indiscriminate weaponry as mass killing were reported Bago last weekend.

Drawing a parallel with the civil war in Syria, Bachelet stated, “There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011. 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.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time warned in 2011 that the failure of the international community to respond with united resolve could be disastrous for Syria and beyond. “The past ten years have shown just how horrific the consequences have been for millions of civilians,” Bachelet added.

“I fear the situation in Myanmar is heading towards a full-blown conflict. States must not allow the deadly mistakes of the past in Syria and elsewhere to be repeated.”

AFP reported, apart from protests that has witnessed live rounds and sometimes grenades, several ethnic armed groups in border regions have in recent weeks stepped up attacks on the military and police, raising fears of a broader civil conflict.

The military and ethnic minority forces are fighting for autonomy in border regions, in particular in the east and north, where the military has been launching air strikes.

Government forces had suffered heavy casualties in an assault on ethnic Kachin militia in the north this week, the Myanmar Now and Democratic Voice of Burma media groups reported.

More than 700 civilians have been killed by Myanmar security forces as of late Monday, including 50 children, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

As per latest reports, Medical workers, some of whom have been at the forefront of the campaign against the coup, gathered in the second city of Mandalay early but troops soon arrived to disperse them, opening fire and detaining some people, the BBC’s Burmese-language service said.

The people in Myanmar have been conducting pro-democracy protest against the February 1, military coup that ousted an elected government led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi

They have kept up their campaign against the military this traditional New Year week with marches and other displays of resistance.

As reported by Reuters, the five-day New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, began on Tuesday but pro-democracy activists cancelled the usual festivities to focus on their opposition to the generals.

Several villagers have fled to neighbouring countries and displaced many more internally, aid groups say.

The United States and other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions focused on the military in response to the coup. Southeast Asian neighbours have been encouraging talks between the rival sides in Myanmar without success.

The U.N. Security Council has called for the release of Suu Kyi and others but stopped short of condemning the coup.

The UN High Commissioner while urging neighbouring States to give temporary protection to people fleeing the violence have called for to facilitate humanitarian access to populations in need.

While asserting that statements of condemnation, and limited targeted sanctions, are clearly not enough, she further urged the States with influence need to urgently apply concerted pressure on the military in Myanmar to halt the commission of grave human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity against the people

Bachelet also stressed on the need to cut off the supply of arms and finances to the military leadership that aid its commission of serious human rights violations.

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