More than 200 NGOs call for UN arms embargo on Myanmar

(AP) — More than 200 global organizations urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, saying the time for statements has passed and immediate action is needed to help protect peaceful protesters against military rule and other opponents of the junta.

A statement by the non-governmental organizations said the military “has demonstrated a callous disregard for human life” since their Feb. 1 coup, killing at least 769 people including 51 children as young as six years old and detaining several thousand activists, journalists, civil servants and politicians. Hundreds of others have disappeared, it said.

“No government should sell a single bullet to the junta under these circumstances,” the NGOs said. “Imposing a global arms embargo on Myanmar is the minimum necessary step the Security Council should take in response to the military’s escalating violence.”

The organizations urged the United Kingdom, the Security Council nation in charge of drafting resolutions on Myanmar, “to begin negotiations on a resolution authorizing an arms embargo as soon as possible.” This “will demonstrate to the junta that there will be no more business as usual,” they said.

Myanmar for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip, culminating in Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to leadership in 2015 elections, the international community responded by lifting most sanctions and pouring investment into the country. The coup took place following November elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won overwhelmingly and the military contests as fraudulent.

The 15-member Security Council has issued several statements since the coup demanding the restoration of democracy and the release of all detainees including Suu Kyi, strongly condemning the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians and calling on the military “to exercise utmost restraint” and “on all sides to refrain from violence.”

It has also stressed “the need to fully respect human rights and to pursue dialogue and reconciliation,” and backed diplomatic efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and U.N. special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener to find a solution.

“The time for statements has passed,” the NGOs said. “The Security Council should take its consensus on Myanmar to a new level and agree on immediate and substantive action.”

They said a U.N. global arms embargo against Myanmar should bar the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of “all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment.” Training, intelligence and other military assistance should also be banned, they said.