Tuesday, March 9, 2021
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UN chief tells Myanmar military: ‘Stop the repression’

The UN’s prime human rights physique has opened its first and highest-level assembly of 2021, amid rising considerations on points together with the navy coup in Myanmar, the arrest of opposition chief Alexey Navalny in Russia and the rights conditions in nations together with Ethiopia and Sri Lanka.

The four-week session of the Human Rights Council, which began Monday, has drawn a number of presidents and prime ministers for its “high-level segment”, with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro set to talk.

The United States is ready to resume its council participation after a two-and-a-half-year walkout throughout the time period of former President Donald Trump.

Concerns about China’s therapy of the Uighur minority, a squeeze by Ethiopia’s authorities on the nation’s Tigray area and state-sponsored violence in nations together with Nicaragua are more likely to face scrutiny throughout the session.

“Every corner of the globe is suffering from the sickness of violations of human rights,” mentioned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The navy coup and violent crackdown on protesters in Myanmar since early February was amongst the most urgent points on the council’s agenda.

“Today, I call on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately,” Guterres mentioned, talking in a pre-recorded video message at the opening of the Geneva-based council’s forty sixth session.

“Release the prisoners. End the violence. Respect human rights, and the will of the people expressed in recent elections,” he mentioned, insisting that “coups haven’t any place in our fashionable world.

“We see the undermining of democracy, the use of brutal force, arbitrary arrests, repression in all its manifestations. Restrictions of civic space. Attacks on civil society. Serious violations against minorities with no accountability, including what has rightly been called ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population. The list goes on.”

An injured man sits in an ambulance after police fired rubber bullets throughout a protest in opposition to the navy coup, in Mandalay, Myanmar, February 20, 2021 [Stringer/Reuters]

The session, nearly completely on-line, comes as the struggle in opposition to COVID-19 has change into a pretext taken by some governments to curb human rights, as the pandemic worsened gender inequality and excessive poverty – whilst vaccination efforts have largely been carried out in the world’s richest nations.

Guterres additionally decried racism, discrimination, xenophobia and the “transnational threat” of white supremacy and neo-Nazi actions – saying such teams are “engaged in a feeding frenzy of hate.”

“Far too often, these hate groups are cheered on by people in positions of responsibility in ways that were considered unimaginable not long ago,” he added, with out elaborating.

Foreign ministers together with Heiko Maas of Germany and Dominic Raab of Britain have been to be joined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in addressing the session.

Trump had pulled the US out of the Human Rights Council over what he cited as considerations that the council was “excessively focused” on Israel and had been too accepting of governments that repeatedly violate human rights – citing Venezuela particularly.

Pandemic ‘opened up new fractures’

Guterres additionally used his speech to criticise nations which are utilizing the pandemic to justify cracking down on dissent, reining in the media and suppressing criticism.

“Using the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have deployed heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalise basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and curtail the activities of non-governmental organisations,” he mentioned, with out naming the nations.

“Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists, and even medical professionals are being detained, prosecuted and subjected to intimidation and surveillance for criticising government pandemic responses – or the lack thereof,” he added.

In some nations, he warned, “pandemic-related restrictions are being used to subvert electoral processes, weaken opposition voices and suppress criticism.”

The UN chief additionally decried widespread misinformation round the world about the coronavirus and the pandemic.

In quite a lot of circumstances, he mentioned, “access to life-saving COVID-19 information has been concealed, while deadly misinformation has been amplified, including by those in power”.

The wide-ranging results of the pandemic “hit the world without mercy”, he added.

“COVID-19 has deepened pre-existing divides, vulnerabilities and inequalities, as well as opened up new fractures, including fault-lines in human rights.”

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