Thursday 2 February 2023
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Yesterday marked two years since the military seized power from the democratically elected Government in Myanmar. The military continues to instigate violence across the country and inflict acute suffering against the people of Myanmar.
The consequences for domestic and regional stability are clear: over 17 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance—a staggering increase of 16 million in just two years—over 1.5 million people are displaced within Myanmar, with a million more in neighbouring Bangladesh, Thailand and India; illicit economies are thriving; and democratic gains have been reversed. Recent figures indicated that Myanmar suffered some of the most intense violence in the world in 2022, with conflict-related deaths second only to Ukraine. There is a clear trajectory of increasing violence, human rights violations and abuses, to which the UK has responded with a range of tools.
Since the coup, we have provided around £100 million to support those in need of humanitarian assistance, deliver healthcare and education for the most vulnerable, and protect civic space. We are proud to work with civil society organisations in Myanmar who have access to vulnerable communities in the most remote and hard-to-reach places, even where others have been unable to do so.
We have led a strong, co-ordinated international response to the coup, through our G7 presidency and our leadership role on Myanmar at the UN Security Council. On 21 December 2022, the UNSC passed the first ever resolution on the situation in Myanmar, led by the UK. The resolution demands an end to violence and urges immediate action by the military regime to fully implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations five-point consensus and release all those arbitrarily detained. We have also used our role at the UN Human Rights Council to highlight violations, including gender-based violence.
The UK condemns the brutal actions of the military regime. The military continues to use indiscriminate air attacks on schools, hospitals and places of worship, to supress, intimidate and demoralise the civilian population. In Myanmar, the security forces are committing atrocities with impunity, including reports of sexual violence, torture and village burnings bearing many of the hallmarks of the atrocities against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017. In response to this violence, the UK has announced its 14th tranche of targeted sanctions, to target companies and individuals who are responsible for supplying aviation fuel to the Myanmar air force. We will continue to use all possible measures to target those who seek to facilitate and profit from the military’s human rights violations.
We support all those working peacefully to restore democracy in Myanmar. The military must engage in inclusive and meaningful dialogue with the full range of opposition voices, including the NUG—National Unity Government—and respect the democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar. In 2022, UK Ministers spoke regularly with counterparts in the NUG. We call on the military to immediately end its campaign of violence and release the thousands of people it has detained arbitrarily, including Aung San Suu Kyi. The military must engage in inclusive and meaningful dialogue with the full range of opposition voices in order to respect the federal, democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar.
The Rohingya in Myanmar continue to suffer systemic discrimination. Sadly, this is leading to desperate attempts to reach third country destinations, often ending in tragedy. We will support all efforts to seek accountability for the atrocities they suffered in 2017. This is why, in August, we announced our intention to intervene in the International Court of Justice case brought by The Gambia.
We remain committed to supporting efforts to hold perpetrators of violence to account. We have provided funding to the independent investigative mechanism for Myanmar and established the Myanmar witness programme to collect and preserve evidence of serious human rights violations and abuses, including those against women, girls and LGBT+ people.
I reiterate my steadfast support for the people of Myanmar, and my desire to work towards a peaceful, inclusive and democratic future for the country.