Protesters hold a picture of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday, February 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar continues. Photo by Xiao Long/ UPI | License Photo
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Two years after the Myanmar military seized power in a coup, a United Nations envoy called for the international community to deny the legitimacy of the ruling junta and to reject upcoming "sham" elections.
On Feb. 1, 2021, the Myanmar military overthrew the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and installed a ruling regime known as the State Administrative Council, which has brutally suppressed widespread public resistance.
"The unrelenting violence that [the junta] unleashed on the people of Myanmar has created a widespread human rights, humanitarian and economic crisis and galvanized nationwide opposition," U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said in a statement released Tuesday.
"The conclusion is clear -- the SAC's military coup was illegal and its claim as Myanmar's government is illegitimate and a new, coordinated international response to the crisis is imperative," Andrews said.
In the two years under military rule, 1.1 million people have been displaced and nearly half are living under the poverty line, a report released by the U.N. envoy's office said Tuesday.
Some 17.6 million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian assistance this year, the report said, a stunning increase from the 1 million needing aid before the coup.
Myanmar's junta, led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, has announced that it will hold elections in August, which Andrews warned would be a "sham."
He called for the international community to "refrain from wittingly or unwittingly providing the junta with the opportunity to manufacture the veneer of a legitimate election."
In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the United States, the European Union and 20 other governments called for an end to the violence in Myanmar.
"The military regime must end violence and create space for meaningful and inclusive dialogue to allow for any democratic process to resume," the statement said.
It also urged the international community to "support all efforts to hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses to account [and] to cease the sale and transfer of arms and equipment, which facilitate atrocities."
The United States on Tuesday slapped new sanctions on six officials and three entities connected with the military junta alongside coordinated efforts from Canada, Australia and Britain.
A rights group of lawmakers from Southeast Asian countries also condemned the upcoming elections and criticized a political party registration law passed last week that stifles any challenges to the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party.
"In the terrible conditions currently prevailing in Myanmar, it is completely impossible to hold an election, especially if it is organized by the very same junta that created such conditions in the first place," Charles Santiago, co-chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said in a statement.
"This election is nothing but a desperate attempt by Min Aung Hlaing to legitimize his power, and will only result in even further bloodshed," he said.
More than 17,000 protesters and activists have been arrested and 2,940 killed since the coup, according to Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
"The people do not accept the cruelty of the junta and have been revolting against its regime in any way they can since the day of the coup," AAPP Secretary Ko Tate Naing said in a statement. "Soon, the junta will face accountability for what they have committed."
Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the junta has "expanded its use of deadly force and repressive measures to squelch all dissent."
"Myanmar's military junta has spent the two years since the coup engaged in a worsening spiral of atrocities against the people of Myanmar that amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes," Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
"Instead of proceeding with inevitably bogus 'elections' in August, Myanmar's generals should be facing international consequences for their crimes," she said.