The United Nations, the United States, and the International Community on Myanmar/Burma
On July 7, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the human rights of Rohingyas and other minorities in Myanmar, requesting further monitoring of progress on recommendations. The Burmese military regime objected to the resolution, calling it “hate speech” meant to “create divisions and distrust among its population under the pretext of human rights.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with six Burmese youth leaders in Bangkok on July 10. They discussed plans for humanitarian assistance as well as repurposing the Burmese military’s frozen funds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor, released on July 21, projected limited growth at 3% after an 18% contraction the previous year. Poverty has doubled since March 2020, with 40% of the population living under the poverty line. Despite these economic setbacks, Myanmar signed memorandums of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation with Rosatom, a Russian state-backed energy firm.
The Burmese military’s execution of four pro-democracy activists on July 25 drew swift condemnation from across the international community. UN Secretary General António Guterres strongly condemned the execution, offered condolences to victims’ families, and reiterated his call for the release of the country’s arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi.
On July 25, Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, said “This cruel and regressive step is an extension of the military’s ongoing repressive campaign against its own people.” Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, was “outraged and devastated,” calling on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take action in response. On July 27, the UN Security Council released a statement condemning the executions and calling for dialogue and an end to all violence in the country.
The United States condemned the execution as well, with Secretary Blinken stating that “These reprehensible acts of violence further exemplify the regime’s complete disregard for human rights and the rule of law.” Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged President Joe Biden to use his Congressionally-approved power to “impose additional targeted sanctions on the Napiydaw regime – including on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).” The executions were also strongly condemned by the G7 Foreign Ministers.
As ASEAN Chair, Cambodia denounced the executions as presenting “a gross lack of will to support… the Five-Point Consensus.” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah deemed them “a crime against humanity,” promising that they would be a focus of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting from July 29-August 5. Saifuddin also stated his intention to block representatives of the Burmese military from the meeting.