Australia, others warn on Myanmar violence

Simon LewisReuters
Seven governments have called on the junta in Myanmar to immediately end all violence.
Camera IconSeven governments have called on the junta in Myanmar to immediately end all violence. Credit: AP

Australia has issued a joint statement along with the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom expressing concern over a military offensive in Myanmar that they say is disproportionately harming civilians.

The countries have repeatedly denounced a February 1 coup that threw Myanmar into turmoil, with regional militias taking up arms after the military attempted to crush widespread protests.

In their joint statement, the countries expressed their "grave concern" over reports of abuses, including sexual violence and torture, especially in the northwestern area that comprises Chin State and the regions of Sagaing and Magwe, where at least 50,000 people are reported to have been displaced.

They called for the junta, which has been accused of destroying homes and churches, to immediately end the violence.

"We are concerned about allegations of weapons stockpiling and attacks by the military, including shelling and airstrikes, use of heavy weapons and the deployment of thousands of troops accompanying what security forces assert are counter-terrorism operations, which are disproportionately impacting civilians," the countries said.

Myanmar's army has called the militias "terrorists" intent on destroying the country.

The United Nations Security Council on November 10 issued a statement expressing concern and calling for the cessation of violence.

The seven countries on Friday went further, calling for countries to "suspend all operational support to the military and to cease the transfer of arms, materiel, dual-use equipment and technical assistance to the military and its representatives".

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