People in Myanmar are on the brink of starvation and in urgent need of medical supplies and food after months of sustained assaults by junta forces, the Special Advisory Council of Myanmar (SAC-M) has learned.
The UN Security Council must finally issue a resolution to consolidate international action towards resolving the crisis.
A representative of the Mindat People’s Administration spoke of his people’s desperation in Mindat in Chin state at a panel discussion hosted by SAC-M on 29 October. Mindat has been subjected to months of sustained attacks by the Myanmar military.
“We want the world to act within the spirit of humanitarian assistance. For four months we’ve had our supplies destroyed, we’re running out. We will either die of starvation or die fighting. Those are our two choices,” the Mindat People’s Administration representative, who cannot be named for security reasons, said.
The Myanmar military has cut off access to the region in northwest Myanmar, restricting food supplies. Thirty-three people have already died from malnutrition and lack of medicine, according to the representative. “Our people can’t withstand another month in this situation, so if we are to continue resisting the military, we need medical supplies, we need everything,” he said.
The statement comes as the military has launched a so-called clearance operation in northwest Myanmar on a scale potentially not seen in modern times. Other parts of Myanmar, including Karenni (Kayah) state in the east are also under severe attack.
The foreign minister of the National Unity Government of Myanmar, Zin Mar Aung told the panel that the crisis is having a destabilising effect on the region and is not only an issue for Myanmar. “We are being threatened every second of every minute. Our human security is under constant threat. We need Asean, the Security Council and the rest of the international community to work with us to find a solution to this crisis,” the foreign minister said.
Marzuki Darusman, SAC-M founding member and former chair of the UN’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said the Asean special envoy to Myanmar must meet the UN Security Council in New York and request it issue a resolution that consolidates the actions of the international community on one single track.
“The resolution must, as a starting point, recognise the illegality of the coup and the need to enforce arms embargos, sanctions, an end to impunity and the release of all political prisoners,” Marzuki Darusman said. “It must commit all parties to implementation of the Asean five-point consensus. Of no less importance is the great need for humanitarian assistance.”
Yanghee Lee, SAC-M founding member and former UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, responded by saying, “I certainly hope that the people in New York, especially those sitting in the UN Security Council, are listening.”
Both Yanghee Lee and Marzuki Darusman commented on Min Aung Hlaing’s failed leadership, noting that cracks are starting to show, and the crisis may be at a tipping point.
“The junta has driven itself into a corner. For the first time, we’re seeing the junta is under considerable pressure from both within and from outside Myanmar. The junta is running out of options,” Marzuki said. “But time is of the essence.” – SAC-M
Yanghee Lee is the former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who held the mandate from 2014 to 2020
Marzuki Darusman is the former chair of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFMM)
Chris Sidoti is a former member of the FFMM
In 2018, the FFMM called for the investigation and prosecution of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In 2019, the FFMM exposed the extent to which the Myanmar military uses its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to sustain its operations and called for immediate targeted sanctions and arms embargoes.