United Nations—UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “urgent” international response to the political crisis created in Myanmar by the February 1 military coup, in a new report released by the United Nations on Wednesday.
In the document on “the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar,” the UN chief also said he feared that the military’s grip on power would become increasingly difficult to counter.
“It is urgent to mount a unified international and regional response to help to put Myanmar back on the path to democratic reform,” he said in the document dated August 31.
No explanation was given by the UN for the long delay in its publication.
The text was approved by 119 countries, with 36 including China abstaining and one, Belarus, voting against.
The international effort “must be accompanied by the immediate release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials,” Guterres said in his report.
There must also be “immediate humanitarian access and assistance, especially to vulnerable communities, among them the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom are living in exile in Bangladesh and elsewhere,” he added.
“The opportunity to prevent the military from entrenching its rule could be narrowing,” and it is important to support “the democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar,” Guterres continued.
Myanmar has been in the grip of unrest since the coup on February 1.
The military has launched a bloody crackdown on opponents, with more than 1,100 civilians killed and 8,400 imprisoned, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
At the UN, Myanmar’s ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who was appointed by the former civilian leader Suu Kyi, has retained his country’s seat, defying the junta to do so.
He is an outspoken supporter of democracy and supported by the international community. In May, the junta appointed a former general to replace him, but the United Nations has not yet approved the appointment.
He had not spoken by the time the UN’s annual General Assembly closed on Monday.
The withdrawal of his appearance came after a high-level UN diplomat told AFP that an agreement had also been reached between the United States, Russia and China preventing him from doing so.
Meanwhile, in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, the brother of slain Rohingya community leader Mohib Ullah on Thursday blamed militants for murdering him in a Bangladesh refugee camp because of his popularity and rights work.
Mohib Ullah emerged in recent years as one of the most prominent representatives of around 850,000 Rohingya stuck in camps in Bangladesh since fleeing violence in Myanmar in 2017.
Unidentified assailants gunned him down late Wednesday, prompting Bangladeshi authorities to deploy hundreds of extra armed police in the camps on Thursday.
Habib Ullah told AFP that his brother received death threats from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in recent months and at least eight men from the group took part in the attack.
“ARSA forces have committed this murder. They often threatened to kill my brother from different (phone) numbers,” he said.
“ARSA did not just kill our brother, they killed our great leader.”
Police have said at least four unidentified assailants were involved in the shooting, which happened as Mohib Ullah chatted with other community leaders outside his office.
Mohib Ullah had set up the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), a community-based rights group that documented atrocities allegedly committed against the group by the Myanmar military during a 2017 offensive.
That campaign prompted hundreds of thousands of the long-oppressed mostly Muslim minority to flee into Bangladesh where they remain four years later in squalid refugee camps.
The former schoolteacher rose to prominence after his group held a grand rally on the second anniversary of the crackdown in 2019, which an estimated 200,000 Rohingya attended.
That year, Mohib Ullah also met then US president Donald Trump at the White House during a meeting on religious freedom, and also spoke at a UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva.
There was no immediate comment Thursday from ARSA, which was behind a spate of attacks on Myanmar security posts in 2017 and is also blamed for attacks on Hindus living in the Rohingya villages in the country’s western Rakhine province.
A senior member of Mohib Ullah’s group also blamed ARSA, saying the group was enraged by his growing popularity in the refugee camps and his work, which gave the “Rohingya a non-violent, progressive and liberal voice of reason”.
Rights activist Nur Khan Liton said Mohib Ullah told him earlier this month that he had received death threats from ARSA after his rights group expanded to all the Rohingya refugee camps.
“His peaceful activism angered ARSA,” Liton told AFP.
Saad Hammadi from Amnesty International said the killing “sends a chilling effect across the entire community”, calling on Dhaka to speed up the investigation.
Police spokesman Rafiqul Islam said the probe was still at a preliminary stage.
“No one has been arrested yet,” Islam told AFP.