UN Envoy calls for action on Myanmar before looming bloodbath

The Security Council is concerned about the growing violence and the intervention of ethnic armed militias. However, the Chinese representative excludes the use of sanctions. The junta declares a unilateral ceasefire, but excludes democracy demonstrations and civil disobedience operations.

New York (AsiaNews) - The special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, has asked the UN Security Council to intervene as soon as possible in Myanmar to avoid the risk of a civil war and an imminent bloodbath.

The urgency is dictated above all by the violent repression of democracy protests by the junta and by the growing declarations of ethnic armed groups that they want to intervene against the army that kills defenseless civilians.

The emergency meeting held yesterday was requested by Great Britain, whose representative, Barbara Woodward, told the media that the Council was "united in its condemnation" and that it was studying "a series of measures available to us".

But the Chinese representative, Zhang Jun, ruled out the use of sanctions, which he considers counterproductive because "they aggravate tension and conflict ... and are not constructive".

China is considered to be the junta's closest ally; for decades and even recently it has intervened in the UN to defend its work and protect it from sanctions.

Schraner Burgener stressed that "the cruelty of the military is too bitter and many [armed ethnic fighters] are declaring themselves in opposition, increasing the possibility of a civil war of unprecedented intensity."

"The military’s cruelty is too severe and many (armed ethnic fighters) are taking clear stances of opposition, increasing the possibility of civil war at an unprecedented scale,” Burgener said. “Failure to prevent further escalation of atrocities will cost the world so much more in the longer term than investing now in prevention, especially by Myanmar’s neighbors and the wider region.”

Schraner Burgener said she remained open for dialogue with the junta but added: “If we wait only for when they are ready to talk, the ground situation will only worsen. A bloodbath is imminent.”

Perhaps fearing the involvement of armed ethnic groups, the junta announced last night its intention to apply a unilateral ceasefire. But it specified that it would make an exception for actions that jeopardize the security of the government and administrative operations: a clear reference to democracy demonstrations and the strike of civil disobedience that is creating problems for state offices and the country's economy.

Until yesterday, the death toll from security forces in demonstrations or homes was 521 dead.