By Quentin Choy
April 1, 2021
A 6 year old girl was shot and killed by police in Myanmar following the coup by the Burmese military. Khin Myo Chit was shot after police kicked the door open, and Khin ran to her father. According to Khin’s sister, the police asked her father if there were any other people in the house, and after he told them there were none, the police accused him of lying and searched the house.
It was at this moment when Khin Myo Chit ran to her father and was shot by the officers. The killing is abhorrent as it was the killing of a girl who was so young, and it is even more despicable because it was in her own home.
According to the charity, Save the Children, a 1 year old baby was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.
Teenagers including a 14 year old and a 13 year old have been shot and killed near their homes or while playing on the street.
With at least 43 children killed since the coup in February, the Burmese military has the blood of its young on its hand. The military should abdicate its stolen power back to Aung San Suu Kyi as quickly as possible to avoid these violent clashes from descending into civil war, especially with armed ethnic militias clashing with the military in rural areas.
According to a press release from the Treasury Department on February 11th, sanctions have been implemented against Myanmar.
The United States will continue to work with partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Burma, to press for the immediate release of political prisoners, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and to hold accountable those responsible for attempting to reverse Burma’s progress toward democracy. These sanctions specifically target those who played a leading role in the overthrow of Burma’s democratically elected government. The sanctions are not directed at the people of Burma.
Perpetrators of the coup as wells as businesses associated with coup leaders and the military are the sanction’s targets, rather than the entire Burmese population which is hopefully going to be strong enough to squeeze these murderers out of power.
The State Department issued a press release on March 25, saying:
The United States is shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Burmese security forces continued to use lethal force against the people of Burma last weekend, resulting in the deaths of at least 27 people, including several children.
These abhorrent and brutal acts against children, one as young as seven years old who was shot and killed in her home while sitting on her father’s lap, further demonstrate the horrific nature of the Burmese military regime’s assault on its own people and its complete disregard for the lives of the people of Burma.
We express our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all of the victims and condemn the Burmese security forces’ actions in the strongest terms. The regime cannot govern through terror.
While this statement is good, the U.S. and its democratic allies need to apply more pressure to the regime while avoiding the horrors of war. This should be done through a combination of diplomatic, political, and financial means that avoid targeting the general public and primarily hurt the regime. An embargo would be effective but devastating toward the Burmese public which is why it should not be implemented.
Secretary of State Blinken has called on global companies such as Chevron, and companies based in Japan and South Korea to reconsider financial support to Myanmar’s military.
However, if several nations can diplomatically isolate Myanmar, that could prove positive in isolating them from the world stage and delegitimizing its leaders. However, if the military regime is isolated from the world stage, they could act with even more impunity toward its children and general population.
While Aung San Suu Kyi is no angel, she is the democratic leader of Myanmar and should be reinstated. Min Aung Hlaing, hater of democracy should be charged with crimes against humanity and locked away.
According to the tweet above by the UN Human Rights Special Procedures page, the atrocities in Myanmar are enough to justify using the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute the coup plotters. According to the International Justice Resource Center, the term “universal jurisdiction” refers to the idea that a national court may prosecute individuals for serious crimes against international law — such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture — based on the principle that such crimes harm the international community or international order itself, which individual States may act to protect.
Universal jurisdiction was used to arrest Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in Britain in 1998.
The situation in Myanmar is dire and tragic, and at this moment, clear solutions are hard to find.
Image Courtesy of Khin Myo Chit’s family.