UN Security Council discusses Myanmar, but generals are not afraid of sanctions

โ€œ The army of Myanmar must stop killing and imprisoning demonstrators.โ€ In no unequivocal terms, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns the recent violence in the South-East Asian country. Dozens of citizens have died there since the coup at the beginning of February and possibly many more. What can the international community do about this?

The UN Security Council will meet in a special session later today to discuss the crisis in the country. The UN human rights researcher for Myanmar wants the Council to severely punish the military in power: a global arms embargo on Myanmar and targeted economic sanctions against the junta.

What does China do?

This will be an impossible task given by China and, to a lesser extent, Russia. Shortly after the coup, China, with Russian support, stopped another attempt by the V Council to condemn the coup, let alone support an arms embargo.

However, China supported an appeal to the junta to release elected Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and others. The Council also said that the country should refrain from violence, maintain democratic institutions and fully respect human rights.

Given the previous blockages of China, this message was striking, says former Ambassador for Myanmar Laetitia van den Assum. โ€œAlso, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar recently publicly stated that China is not happy with the situation at all. That is exceptional.โ€

According to her, Beijing‘s reaction has to do with a need for stability in Myanmar. โ€œChina shares hundreds of kilometers border with the country. In addition, work has been going on for years to unlock the Chinese province of Yunan with roads and railways passing through Myanmar. There are enormous interests involved.โ€

On Sunday, security forces fired sharp at unarmed demonstrators:

A Chinese spokesman at the United Nations said that the country hopes that all parties in Myanmar will put the interests of the people first and talk to each other to express their differences. โ€œEverything the Security Council does must focus on Myanmar’s political and social stability and not further exacerbate tensions.โ€

Meanwhile, the Western countries do not sit still. The United States has blacklisted high-ranking officers, a number of ministries and military conglomerates of Myanmar for trade. The EU is also preparing sanctions.

But the impact of these measures will be disappointing, because the US and the EU are not very large trading partners for Myanmar. China is, but that country keeps its gunpowder dry. But it will soon have to take action, thinks Van den Assum. โ€œIf China comes up with nothing again, it would be serious.โ€

What does the region do?

What about the other countries in Southeast Asia? Traditionally, they prefer not to interfere in each other‘s internal affairs. No wonder perhaps when you consider that out of the ten Southeast Asian countries, two are led by military forces after a coup d’รฉtat, two countries are communist and have no elections, in two countries one party has been in power for more than 20 years, and one country has an absolute monarchy , listed the news agency Bloomberg. Only the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have in recent years had a peaceful transfer of power from one party to another.

It is no coincidence that these three countries, plus Singapore, also called on Myanmar on Tuesday to release Aung San Suu Kyi and restore democracy.

Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Myanmar and used harsh words as one of the few neighbouring countries. The Foreign Minister called it a national disgrace that the Myanmar army is shooting at its own people.

However, the Singapore Prime Minister Lee sees nothing in sanctions, which would affect the population in particular. He called the coup in a BBC interview โ€œa tremendously tragic backward step leading nowhereโ€ and said that violence against civilians and unarmed demonstrators is unacceptable and disastrous. His solution: release Aung San Suu Kyi and negotiate with her the future of Myanmar.

But commander-in-chief Hlaing is inexorable: the leaders of the protests and other โ€œincitorsโ€ will be punished. The generals are not afraid of sanctions at all.

โ€œ We are used to sanctions and we will survive them,โ€ one of them said to the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar when she warned him of the penalties. It is also said that an isolated position on the international stage does not harm the army‘s top. โ€œWe have to learn to hang out with just a few friends.โ€

Bravoure, says Van den Assum. โ€œNo one likes to be under sanctionsstand. Moreover, the companies of the army are now being hit by which the oppression is paid. They really don’t like that.โ€

The former ambassador hopes that there will be countries that will bring the parties in Myanmar together. โ€œThis is ultimately a problem that people in Myanmar have to solve themselves.โ€