REUTERS/WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON/ The United States, together with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, released a joint statement on Friday (Nov 26) expressing alarm over a military attack in Myanmar that they claim is disproportionately affecting civilians.
A military takeover on February 1 threw the South-east Asian country into chaos, with regional militias taking up guns after the military attempted to quell widespread protests. Washington and other countries have frequently condemned the military takeover.
The nations expressed their "deep concern" in a joint statement over claims of atrocities, including sexual violence and torture, particularly in the northwestern region of Chin State and the regions of Sagaing and Magwe, where at least 50,000 people are said to have been displaced. They demanded that the ruling military, which has been accused of demolishing homes and churches, put an end to the violence immediately.
"We are concerned about allegations of weapons stockpiling and military attacks, including shelling and air strikes, the use of heavy weapons, and the deployment of thousands of troops to accompany what security forces claim are counter-terrorism operations that disproportionately affect civilians," the countries said.
Myanmar's army has labeled the militias as terrorists bent on destabilizing the government. On November 10, the UN Security Council released a statement expressing alarm and called for an end to the violence. On Friday, the seven countries went even farther, urging governments to "halt all operational support to the military, as well as the delivery of weaponry, material, dual-use equipment, and technical help to the military and its officials."
The united declaration follows Myanmar's ruling military's vow on Friday to arrest individuals who invest in bonds issued by a shadow government, threatening them with heavy prison sentences for their involvement in "terrorist funding." The National Unity Government (NUG), a coalition of pro-democracy organizations, ethnic minority armies, and remnants of the civilian government deposed by the military, announced this week that it had generated US$9.5 million (S$13 million) in the first 24 hours of its bond offering. The earnings from the zero-interest bonds will be used to bankroll the NUG's revolution against the military, which began on February 1 with a military takeover and the deadly suppression of protesters.
It hasn't specified how the monies will be spent. The ruling military's spokesman, Mr Zaw Min Tun, said the NUG has been declared a terrorist organization, and those who provide it with funds risk harsh consequences. "Action can be taken on terrorism charges, with stiff penalties for individuals who fund terrorist groups," he said during a regular televised press conference. "It falls under that (provision) if you acquire money bonds." The bonds, which have two-year terms and are primarily sold to Myanmar residents living abroad, went on sale on Monday in denominations of US$100, US$500, US$1,000, and US$5,000. The NUG did not say how many bidders participated in the transaction, which required buyers to deposit monies to a Czech Republic account. Photo Google.
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