‘Civil war risk is real’: Rare move amid military coup

·4-min read

The United Nations has taken a rare move amid threat of a military takeover. 

The United Nations General Assembly has voted in favour of stopping the flow of arms to Myanmar, amid concerns the country is headed for a civil war.

In addition to halting the supply of weapons to Myanmar, the UN has urged the military to respect the results of the November election and release political detainees, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"The risk of a large-scale civil war is real," UN special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told the General Assembly after the vote. 

"Time is of the essence. The opportunity to reverse the military takeover is narrowing."

The General Assembly adopted a resolution with the support of 119 countries four months after the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in a coup.

Protesters make the three-finger salute as they take part in a flash mob demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on June 14, 2021. Source: AFP via Getty Images
Protesters make the three-finger salute as they take part in a flash mob demonstration against the military coup. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Belarus requested the text be put to a vote and was the only country to oppose it while 36 abstained, including China and Russia.

Some of the countries which abstained from the vote said the crisis in Myanmar was an internal issue, while other countries said the resolution would not help.

Other states said the resolution did not adequately address the plight of Rohingya Muslims some four years after a military crackdown forced nearly a million to flee Myanmar

The remaining 37 General Assembly members did not vote.

However, Olof Skoog, the European Union UN ambassador was optimistic the resolution sends a powerful message.

"It delegitimises the military junta, condemns its abuse and violence against its own people and demonstrates its isolation in the eyes of the world," he said.

Security forces detain people, as they search for protesters who were taking part in a demonstration against the military coup, in Yangon on May 7, 2021. Source: AFP via Getty Images
Security forces detain people, as they search for protesters who were taking part in a demonstration against the military coup. Source: AFP via Getty Images

The resolution also calls for the Myanmar military to stop violent acts against peaceful protesters and end the restrictions on the internet and social media.

The resolution was the result of lengthy negotiations by a so-called Core Group including the European Union and many Western nations and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations known as ASEAN, which includes Myanmar.

A UN diplomat said there was an agreement with ASEAN to seek consensus, but in the vote, its members were divided.

Myanmar, whose UN ambassador supports the ousted democratic government, voted “yes” along with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines while Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei abstained.

While General Assembly resolutions carry political power, they are not politically binding.

The action by the General Assembly reflects international condemnation of the February 1 coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s party from power and put her under arrest along with many government leaders and politicians. 

Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted by the military in February this year. Source: AP Photo
Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was ousted by the military in February this year. Source: AP Photo

It also demonstrates a strong opposition to the military crackdown on protesters demanding an end to the army’s takeover.

Blasts in towns and cities across Myanmar have recently become more common as the military struggles to impose order after the coup.

Symbols of military rule have been key targets and the junta has blamed "terrorists" with ties to the ousted government.

According to RFA, six bombs in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, went off on Friday, one at the headquarters of a political party backed by the military.

In this May 23, 2021, file photo, military troops and police go on patrol at Kayah state, eastern Myanmar.
At least one-quarter of the people in Myanmar's smallest state have been forced to flee their homes. Source: AP

A Myanmar military truck parked outside the Union Solidarity and Development Party's (USDP) office in Yangon's Tamwe township exploded and killed two people, Reuters reported.

Win Thu, vice chairman of Yangon Rescue Committee, said there were two explosions in the same area within a few minutes of each other, the first killing a soldier and the second killing a passenger in a taxi.

"We don't know who did it. We just picked up the injured and dead bodies using our ambulances as requested. We sent the injured people to hospital," Win Thu told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the two blasts.

With Reuters and Associated Press

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting