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Source: Amnesty International NZ

All countries must stop selling arms to Myanmar following the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly condemning the use of lethal force and violence in the country, Amnesty International said today. 

The resolution, passed by an overwhelming vote of 119 to 1 with 36 abstentions, calls on member states to prevent the flow of arms into the country. It strongly condemns the worsening crackdown on peaceful protesters and civil society, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of arbitrary detainees and an end to restrictions on freedom of expression.

“Today the General Assembly, as the voice of the entire international community, joins the Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council in condemning the Myanmar military’s killing spree against its own people,” said Lawrence Moss, Senior UN Advocate for Amnesty International.

“The Myanmar military must immediately meet these calls, and the UN Security Council must act to enforce them.

“All countries should heed the resolution’s call to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar, and the Security Council should immediately make this mandatory by imposing a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar.  

“It is a helpful sign that 11 of the 15 members of the Security Council voted in support of this resolution.  China and Russia, having abstained on the vote to adopt this resolution, should also now refrain from obstructing the will of the international community by vetoing a Security Council resolution to impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar.  

“All states should urge China and Russia to heed the General Assembly’s call to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar, and to cooperate in making this mandatory for all states by a Security Council resolution,” said Moss.

Since the 1 February military coup overthrew the elected civilian government, 870 protesters, bystanders and other civilians have reportedly been killed, over 4983 arrested, and the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly drastically curtailed, including shutdowns of media outlets, the internet and social media. The UN resolution calls for the Myanmar armed forces to “immediately and unconditionally” release the elected civilian political leaders and all others who have been arbitrarily detained, charged or arrested, and to “end restrictions on medical personnel, civil society, labour union members, journalists and media workers and restrictions on the internet and social media.”

The UN resolution also notes the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged atrocity crimes in Bangladesh and Myanmar.  Amnesty International further calls for the Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar as a whole to the ICC, and to impose targeted sanctions against the military officials responsible for crimes under international law, including the serious violations relating to repression of dissent following the 1 February coup.  

The text of the resolution was negotiated between nine member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a core group from amongst over 50 states sponsoring the resolution.  

“After negotiating this text, the failure of four ASEAN states – Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand – to support it when a vote was called does not augur well for the success of the dialogue and mediation process the ASEAN claims to lead,” said Moss. 

“For eight weeks, the ASEAN has failed to implement its own 24 April consensus statement or even name its special envoy. The ASEAN has now failed to take a united stand for the release of arbitrary detainees and against the flow of arms to Myanmar.   

“ASEAN states must use all their bilateral and regional leverage to ensure Myanmar complies with these demands, but the international community cannot wait any longer on ASEAN alone. The UN Security Council must act to enforce the General Assembly’s calls upon Myanmar.”