A UN expert on Thursday dismissed as fraudulent an upcoming election in Myanmar, accusing the junta of looking for a veneer of legitimacy and rebuking the international community for not doing enough to challenge the regime.
“The junta is preparing for what it describes as an election,” Thomas Andrews, the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights situation in Myanmar, told reporters in Geneva. “This is not going to be an election. It is a fraud.” Myanmar’s military seized power and toppled the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
The country has been in turmoil ever since, with fighting across swathes of the country and the economy in tatters even as the junta says it plans to hold fresh polls next August.
The military had led a bloody crackdown against their opposition, with nearly 2,300 civilians killed and 15,000 more arrested, according to a local monitor. With the announced elections, the junta is looking “to create the sense of legitimacy and inevitability”, Andrews said.
“It is very important that nations do not fall into the trap of appearing to support that fraud, either with technical assistance or advice of any kind,” he added. “Don’t be part of this atrocity that’s going on in Myanmar,” said Andrews.
Earlier, he shared details of a September 16 attack by the Myanmar military on a school, in which at least 13 people had been killed, including 11 students. Neighbouring countries, specifically members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could expect a flood of refugees if these abuses continued, he warned.
And on Wednesday, during a presentation to the UN Human Rights Council, Andrews said he was surprised by the double standard of how quickly the world body and other countries had reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“So the question is, why can’t this happen with respect to the atrocities that are being placed upon the people of Myanmar?” he said.