One year after the coup: EU continues to strive for a return to democracy in Myanmar 

On the one year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar, the High Representative on behalf of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of Albania, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have made the following declaration:

One year ago, on 1 February 2021, the military authorities in Myanmar forcibly overthrew the civilian government in blatant violation of the will of the people as expressed in the general elections of 8 November 2020. This act halted the country’s democratic transition with disastrous humanitarian, social, security, economic, and human rights consequences. Since the beginning of the crisis, the EU stands unequivocally with the people of Myanmar, continuing to strive for a return to democracy.

The European Union is deeply concerned by the continuing escalation of violence and the evolution towards a protracted conflict with regional implications. Since the military coup, the situation has continuously and gravely deteriorated. A large part of the population is now in a highly precarious situation, experiencing poverty, food shortages, displacement, and violence.  

More than 1500 people have been killed, over 8 600 are currently under detention and 80 people sentenced to death. There are over 400 000 newly displaced people since the military take-over. This is in addition to almost one million Myanmar refugees in neighboring countries. 

The European Union condemns in the strongest terms continuing grave human rights violations including torture, sexual and gender-based violence, the continued persecution of civil society, human rights defenders, and journalists, attacks on the civilian population, including ethnic and religious minorities by the Myanmar armed forces. Therefore, the EU calls for full accountability of the leaders responsible for the coup as well as of the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations. The EU also reiterates its firm demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners arbitrarily detained in relation to the coup and the return to power of democratically elected leaders.

As a matter of priority, the EU reiterates its calls for an immediate cessation of all hostilities, and an end to the disproportionate use of force and the state of emergency. The military authorities must ensure rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to all displaced persons and people in need, in all parts of the country. The European Union will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence and reiterates its call for the full and immediate respect of international humanitarian law.

The European Union reiterates its strong support for ASEAN’s efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis and stresses the need for Myanmar to implement swiftly and faithfully ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus of 24 April 2021, in particular inclusive dialogue with all parties concerned – including the National Unity Government, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and the ethnic groups – as well as granting access by the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair to all stakeholders. We also fully support the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Noeleen Heyzer, and welcome her close coordination with ASEAN. We echo her call for trust-building efforts by all stakeholders and concrete progress on the ground.  

In view of the escalating violence in Myanmar, increased international action is required in line with the already existing EU arms embargo on Myanmar. Since the military coup on 1 February 2021, the EU has imposed targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military, its leaders, and entities. In the absence of any swift progress of the situation in Myanmar, the EU stands ready to adopt further restrictive measures against those responsible for undermining democracy and the serious human rights violations in Myanmar.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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