Ousted Myanmar lawmakers eyeing crimes against humanity probe at International Criminal Court

Ousted Myanmar lawmakers eyeing crimes against humanity probe at International Criminal Court

Protests in Hlaing Township, Yangon
Protesters cover behind a makeshift barricade facing police in Hlaing Township, Yangon, Myanmar March 17, 2021, in this still image from a social media video obtained by Reuters

Ousted Myanmar lawmakers are exploring whether the International Criminal Court (ICC) can investigate any crimes against humanity committed since the Feb 1 coup, as an activist group said three more people had died in clashes with security forces.

Military and police are using increasingly violent tactics to suppress daily demonstrations by supporters of detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The total number killed in weeks of unrest has risen to at least 224, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group said, noting another death in the commercial hub of Yangon and two in the cities of Monywa and Bago on Thursday (Mar 18).

Myanmar's UN envoy, who publicly broke with the junta, said a committee of ousted lawmakers was looking at ways people can be held accountable for violence following the coup.

"The ICC is one of them," Kyaw Moe Tun told an event in New York. "We are not a state party to the ICC, but we need to ... explore the ways and means to bring the case to the ICC."

In Geneva, United Nations human rights experts denounced forced evictions, arbitrary detentions and the killings of pro-democracy protesters. They said foreign governments should consider pursuing those responsible for crimes against humanity.

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Hundreds have fled Myanmar's towns and cities since the coup and are sheltering in areas controlled by ethnic militias on the Thai border, an official from one group said. People have also fled to the Indian side of the border.

Thai border guards walk a they patrol at Myanmar border in Mae Sot
Thai border guards walk a they patrol at Myanmar border in Mae Sot, Thailand March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The United Nations food agency said this week that rising prices of food and fuel meant many poor families faced shortages and hunger.

A junta spokesman has said the security forces have used force only when necessary.

INDONESIA CALLS FOR HIGH-LEVEL ASEAN MEETING

Western countries have condemned the coup and called for an end to the violence and for Aung San Suu Kyi's release. Asian neighbours have offered to help find a solution, but Myanmar's military has shown no sign of seeking reconciliation.

Coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing took part in a video conference with other Southeast Asian defence chiefs on Thursday, his first international engagement since seizing power, state television showed.

During the meeting, head of Indonesia's armed forces Hadi Tjahjanto expressed concern over the situation in Myanmar, according to the military's website.

A junta spokesman did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

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Protests in Hlaing Township, Yangon
A protester throws a glass bottle at police behind a makeshift barricade in Hlaing Township, Yangon, Myanmar March 17, 2021, in this still image from a social media video obtained by Reuters

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday called for democracy to be restored and violence to be halted in Myanmar and for Southeast Asian leaders to hold a high-level meeting to discuss the situation there.

Indonesia has led diplomatic efforts in Southeast Asia to resolve the crisis but a Mar 3 regional meeting it helped coordinate failed to make headway.

The European Union is due to place sanctions on individual military figures on Monday and then target businesses they run in what would be its most significant response so far since the coup.

The EU's expected sanctions follow a US decision last month to target the military and its business interests. Britain last month froze the assets and placed travel bans on three Myanmar generals.

The army has defended its coup, saying its accusations of fraud in a Nov 8 election swept by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy were rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised a new election but not set a date.

Source: Reuters/jt

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