08/18/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) — Human rights watchdog group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported today that the military junta in Myanmar has killed over 1,000 civilians since seizing power in February. The group is widely cited in the international press and has a rigorous process for verifying incidents. In its announcement today, AAPP noted that the actual number of civilians killed by the military is likely much higher than reported.
In addition to those killed, 7,338 have been arrested and 5,730 are still being detained, according to AAPP. While much of that number comes from the months immediately after the coup, the military—locally known as the Tatmadaw—is continuing its campaign of violence to this day.
The Tatmadaw has long been the main force of persecution in Myanmar, engaging in protracted military campaigns against ethnic and religious minorities across the country. As it solidifies its grasp on power, attacks on ethnic and religious minorities are likely to increase.
Incidents of religious persecution are common in Myanmar, perpetuated mainly by the Tatmadaw. Observers are warning that the military’s consolidation of power in the coup will only make things worse for religious minorities and urge the international community to take meaningful action against the abuses being perpetrated by the military regime.
Sanctions and the freezing of assets are a good first step, but more must be done, including the imposition of meaningful sanctions, the recognition of the National Unity Government, and the creation of an effective international coalition to push back against the Tatmadaw and its allies.
China and Japan are two countries that deserve to be watched particularly closely as the international community weighs the appropriate response to the coup. Japan has seemed hesitant to join the international community in its strong condemnation of the coup, and not only has a close relationship with the Burmese military but has a long history of monetary support for the country. For its part, China vetoed a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup in an unsurprising show of support for its longtime ally and economic partner.
The international community must consider how it can effect real change in Myanmar and what it can do to prevent countries like China and Japan from softening the impact of the international community’s attempts to pressure the Tatmadaw. Myanmar’s pro-democracy protestors and religious minorities alike need the concerted support of the international community.
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