The chorus for action against Myanmar’s military junta is increasing following the Christmas Eve killing of aid workers attached to Save The Children. Now, the European Union has called for an embargo on arms sold to Myanmar.
Two Save the Children staff were among some 35 people killed by military junta troops in eastern Myanmar. The charred remains of the aid workers and civilians were found by pro-democracy rebels on a highway in Kayah state where they have been fighting forces that seized power in a February coup.
Josep Borrell, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy spoke also of the need to hold the ruling military junta accountable for “the appalling act of violence“.
EU has in place targeted sanctions on the Myanmar’s ruling military leaders and has ceased financial assistance to the country.
Breach of international humanitarian law
Save’s CEO Inger Ashing insisted that violence against innocent civilians including aid workers is intolerable. “This senseless attack is a breach of international humanitarian law,” she said.
International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), the harbingers of International Humanitarian Law, have yet to react to the latest killings of civilians in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s state media that answers to the army too put out reports about the incident, saying soldiers had fired on “terrorists with weapons”. But the state media did not make any mention about the civilians and children who got caught in the cross-hairs.
The statement released by Save the Children read that the two deceased staff members were returning from helping a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack.
Myanmar is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian and human rights crisis, according to an appeal released by UNICEF. Multiple challenges, including a political crisis, escalating conflict and violence, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters, rising poverty and a collapse in public services, have left an estimated 14.4 million people, including 5 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance.
Calls for an arms embargo
A June resolution moved before the UN security council to prevent arms shipments to the country was vetoed by China, Russia and India.
Save the Children’s Ashing called on the UN Security Council to investigate the incident and its member states to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar. She also asked the UN to limit junta air strikes on towns in the area.
Her statement found an echo in UN Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who said that “The targeting of innocent people and humanitarian actors is unacceptable.”
The calls came after United Nations under-secretary-general Martin Griffiths on Sunday said that he was “horrified” by the reports. He had demanded the Myanmar government carry out an investigation into the incident.
On Thursday, Borrell called for increased international preventive action. “The EU also stands ready to impose further sanctions against the military regime,” his statement read.
Save the Children, has a staff of 900 in different locations around Myanmar. The organisation pulled out of the Kayah state and several other regions after shootout incident.
The featured image is a representative one from UNHCR.