With over 700 people killed since the military coup on February 1, not much has changed since then. Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still being detained by the military, and young men are being “disappeared” by armed forces in the middle of the night. Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the coup still rules over the country, using the military to quell protests with impunity.
The United Nations has released several calls for sanctions on the country, and the Biden administration has sanctioned military leaders in Myanmar.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes that what is really needed in Myanmar is “collective member state actions in the Security Council” rather than UN Peacekeepers. He believes that “a firm, unified international response is urgently needed” in regards to returning Myanmar to becoming a democracy.
If the democracies of the world and international institutions like the United Nations are to be taken seriously, they must begin to apply more pressure on Myanmar. Whether this be through UN Peacekeeping forces, intense diplomatic negotiations, or a global coalition to restore democracy, the world and its democracies must act.
China, an ally of Myanmar holds a seat on the security council, and it has the power to veto a motion to approve UN Peacekeepers from entering Myanmar. While leaders such as Indonesian President Joko Widodo have urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to hold a summit to come up with a solution to the ongoing violence, it is unclear as to whether the ASEAN nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) can come up with a clear solution. Myanmar is also a member of ASEAN.
Children as young as 6-years-old have been killed by Min Aung Hlaing’s military junta, and protests continue to be violently repressed. Efforts have ramped up by the military junta to further isolate Myanmar from the international community with bans on satellite TVs being implemented with a punishment of one year in prison and about a $320 fine. Mobile data has also been cut off, curtailing the power of independent media and reporters.
A Japanese journalist, Yuki Kitazumi was arrested in Myanmar, and Japan is fighting for his release.
While I am usually an opponent of war and armed conflict, a UN Peacekeeping mission in Myanmar to restore democracy would be far less deadly than a civil war between the civilian population and the military.
Diplomatic efforts are ramping up, which is a motion in the right direction. Zhang Jun, said that “China is working very closely with the relevant parties, urging them really to refrain from going extreme, avoiding violence, avoiding casualties and try to find a solution with dialogue. That’s why the [Security Council] is also now giving full support to the diplomatic efforts of ASEAN.”
The U.S. has militarily intervened to save democracy before like in Panama in 1991. They have also stopped injustice like in Operation Desert Storm in removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. While I am not arguing for the same level of military intervention in Myanmar, it should be remembered that the U.S. has entered military conflict to protect and preserve democracy before.
If the United Nations is to be taken seriously as a means of mediating global conflict, they must act, and the same is true of the world’s democracies. How valuable are democracies if no one is willing to save a democracy that has been violently kidnapped?
Image Courtesy of Christopher Herwig.