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UN and Myanmar

The prevarication, that was palpable notably in Libya and Syria, seems set to resonate in the echo chambers of Kabul and further afield in the tormented land now headed by Taliban hardliners, just as it does in Myanmar

SNS | Kolkata |

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Gueterres, is spot on when he equates Myanmar with Afghanistan and Ethiopia ~ countries where peace and stability remain a “distant dream”. The prevarication, that was palpable notably in Libya and Syria, seems set to resonate in the echo chambers of Kabul and further afield in the tormented land now headed by Taliban hardliners, just as it does in Myanmar. Mr Gueterres has pledged unwavering support for the people of what he calls the “turbulent, military-ruled South-east Asian state in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law”. In parallel, he has ackowledged that the UN is unlikely to take any meaningful action against Myanmar’s new rulers, who assumed power in August, not the least because they have the support of China and Russia.

The concert of powers in support of the repressive regime in Myanmar might militate against any positive and meaningful intervention to rescue the beleagured country from the gun-toting watchdogs in uniform, indeed the segment that has called the shots for as long as it has. Beijing and Moscow are among the leading arms suppliers to Myanmar.

Forthermore, they are ideologically sympathetic to the omnipotent junta. As members of the Security Council, both countries will almost certainly veto any effort by the UN to impose a coordinated arms embargo or anything beyond a call for peace. It would be pertinent to recall that peace has been an extremely scarce commodity in Myanmar since the early 1990s. Despite elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy had won, she has consistently been denied power and authority. In consequence, the military reigns supreme and the authority of the cantonment gets forther entrenched in a travesty of democracy if ever there was one. The power of the soldier is spurious even at the mildest estimation.

When Myanmar’s army ousted the elected regime of Suu Kyi, it had claimed with little or no evidence that the general election her party had won was marred by fraud. The takeover ignited widespread street protests that the military has tried to crush.

The conflict has killed more than 1,100 people, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. It is a measure of the ineffectual stand of the UN that “the military’s iron grip on power faces resistance from large segments of the society,” Ms Bachelet said in a statement. “These disurbing trends suggest the alarming possibility of an escalating civil war”. Contextualised with Suu Kyi’s dire predicament and the frightful death toll, the civil war has escalated to an awesome degree in response to which the United Nations has been remarkably helpless, almost pathetically so. Human rights groups have mentioned the “use of deadly force against peaceful civilian protesters and forced disappearances”. The latest appeal by the UN Secretary-General cannot inspire optimism. That is the long and short of the tragedy of Myanmar.