European External Action Service

02/01/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/01/2023 06:51

Myanmar: Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the 2nd anniversary of the military take-over


Myanmar: Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the 2nd anniversary of the military take-over

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military overthrew by force the country's democratically elected government, in blatant violation of the will of the people as expressed in the general elections of 8 November 2020. This illegitimate act reversed the country's democratic transition and led to disastrous humanitarian, social, security, economic and human rights consequences. The EU has always stood unequivocally with the people of Myanmar in their demands for civilian rule and democracy.

The continuing escalation of violence by the military regime and the evolution into a protracted conflict throughout Myanmar is alarming, with implications for stability and peace in the broader region. Over 17 million people need humanitarian assistance and 1.2 million have been displaced since the coup, while over one million Rohingya refugees remain in Bangladesh following their expulsion by the Myanmar military.

The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms the grave human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, the persecution of civil society, human rights defenders and journalists, attacks on the civilian population, targeting also children and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities across the country, and recent deadly air strikes on civilian targets, including on schools and hospitals, by the Myanmar armed forces. Those responsible for the coup, as well as the perpetrators of violence and gross human rights violations, should be held accountable. The EU reiterates its call for increased international preventive action, including an arms embargo in order to cease the sale and transfer of arms and equipment, as they facilitate the military's atrocities.

The politically motivated trials against democratically elected President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as many other dissidents and pro-democracy activists, are completely unacceptable and show the military regime's wish to eradicate all democratic opposition to its rule. All political prisoners and persons arbitrarily detained should be released immediately and unconditionally. The four executions of pro-democracy and opposition leaders carried out on 25 July 2022 were a blatant violation of human rights. The EU is fundamentally opposed to the death penalty as an inhumane, cruel and irreversible punishment that violates the inalienable right to life.

All hostilities must stop immediately. The military authorities must fully respect international humanitarian law, and put an end to the indiscriminate use of force. 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 EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. All parties to the conflict must respect the delivery of humanitarian assistance according to these principles.

The European Union supports ASEAN's and the UN´s efforts to help Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and welcomes the UN Security Council's adoption of Resolution 2669 on Myanmar. Myanmar should swiftly and faithfully implement ASEAN's Five-Point Consensus, as reiterated at the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in November 2022, and at the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in December 2022.

Only an inclusive political process involving the National Unity Government (NUG), the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), political parties, civil society, religious and minority leaders, ethnic groups and all other relevant stakeholders in Myanmar, can lead the way out of the protracted crisis in the country and pave the way for a meaningful democratic process that would truly reflect the will of the Myanmar people.

In the absence of any swift progress on the situation in Myanmar, the EU stands ready to adopt further restrictive measures against those directly responsible for and those abetting the undermining of democracy and the serious human rights violations in the country.

The candidate countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina1, the potential candidate country Georgia, the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Armenia align themselves with this statement.