06/19/2021, 10.50
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The United Nations votes to stop arms sales to Yangon

The General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the military coup asking member states to prevent the influx of weapons. But China and Russia - the major suppliers - have abstained. Today Aung San Suu Kyi turns 76 as a prisoner, while her supporters take to Yangon streets with flowers in their hair.

New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN General Assembly passed a resolution yesterday evening calling on member states to "prevent the influx of weapons" into Myanmar. The text was approved with 119 votes in favor and one vote against, Belarus; 36 countries including China and Russia abstained.

In the resolution, the military junta is expressly condemned for the coup d'etat last February 1 that overturned the outcome of the elections, won by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD). It also calls for the release of all political prisoners and an end to the violence.

According to data released by the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, almost 5,000 demonstrators have been arrested since the beginning of the protests against the coup and 870 people have been killed.

The measure adopted by the UN General Assembly to date carries the greatest political weight of those adopted by the international community, but it is in any case not binding. What matters is the fact that Yangon's two largest arms suppliers - China and Russia - abstained. And even among the ASEAN countries - the regional cooperation body of Southeast Asia - Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos have chosen to abstain.

“The risk of a large-scale civil war is real,” U.N. special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told the General Assembly after the vote. “Time is of the essence. The opportunity to reverse the military takeover is narrowing.”

 Skepticism was expressed by the ambassador of Myanmar to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, who from the first hours after the coup took sides against the military and today represents the government in exile: while voting in favor, he spoke of a "watered down " resolution, as it fails to call for a real embargo. He also complained that it took three months to get to the vote.

The news of the UN vote comes as Aung San Suu Kyi is today spending her seventy-sixth birthday as a prisoner. To stand in solidarity with her in her current plight, supporters paraded today in Yangon wearing a flower in their hair, as a tribute to the leader of the National League for Democracy’s usual custom.

It is Aung San Suu Kyi’s fifteenth birthday spent under arrest. She is expected to appear again in court on Monday in the trial where she stands accused of a series of crimes including illegal possession of walkie-talkies, corruption and disclosure of state secrets, for which she faces a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

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