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Ukraine-type approach required for Myanmar’s military: UN expert

UN rapporteur called for sanctions and arms embargo saying Russian weapons are being used against the people of Myanmar.

The types of Russian weapons used in Ukraine are also killing people in Myanmar, an independent United Nations expert has said, urging countries at the UN to form a coalition — as they had done after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine — to put pressure on Myanmar’s military rulers.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said on Wednesday that a coalition of countries should target Myanmar’s military with sanctions and an arms embargo.

“Some of the very types of weapons that are being used to kill people in Ukraine are being used to kill the people of Myanmar. And they come from the very same source — they come from Russia,” Andrews told reporters in New York.

“The international community should be coordinating their efforts to target them, and then work together to implement these measures,” Andrews said.

“It’s not being done now. Not because we don’t know how to do it. We know how to do it. If you want a playbook, look at Ukraine.”

Russia is among the biggest suppliers of weaponry to Myanmar and has been among the few defenders of the country’s military government since it launched a coup in 2021.

More than 2,300 people have been killed in Myanmar since the military’s crackdown on dissent after its coup and there was outrage this week after many civilians were reported killed in a military air raid on a gathering in northern Kachin State on Sunday.

“The pattern of the response of the international community to this horror has not changed,” Andrews said of the situation inside the country.

“The world is failing the people of Myanmar, to me there’s no question whatsoever,” he said. “There is a leadership vacuum, here in the UN and the international community.”

After Andrews briefed the UN General Assembly Human Rights Committee earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Gennady Kuzmin questioned the rapporteur’s report, saying it was “often not corroborated by facts”.

“It’s not up to you to say whose weapons are killing civilians, elderly people, women, children around the world. You have been appointed the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, so deal with Myanmar instead of Ukraine,” Kuzmin told the committee.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021, detaining her and other officials and launching a bloody crackdown on protests and other types of dissent.

The UN Security Council has long been split on Myanmar, with diplomats saying China and Russia would likely shield the military leaders from strong action such as sanctions.

Earlier this month, the US sanctioned a group of Myanmar businessmen and their company, accusing them of supplying Russian-made weapons to the military leadership.

Aung Moe Myint and Hlaing Moe Myint, the owners of Dynasty International, and Myo Thitsar, the company’s director, were placed on a sanctions blacklist for procuring weapons and aircraft in Belarus for the military administration, the US Treasury said.

The United Kingdom last month proposed a draft resolution to the Security Council that would demand an end to all violence in Myanmar, carried the threat of sanctions, and called on the military to release all political prisoners.

A revised draft was circulated to the 15-member body this week. It was not immediately clear when there could be a vote on the resolution.

Andrews also slammed Malaysia on Wednesday for deporting dozens of Myanmar nationals, saying they “will be facing, in my opinion, torture and most probably execution”.

Malaysian authorities have not responded to requests for comment on the reported deportations.

“This is outrageous. It is unacceptable, and it is a gross violation of international law,” he said.

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