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U.S., 6 other nations urge end to military sales to Myanmar

Reports of human rights violations, violence growing

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A small group of protesters hold a banner which reads in Burmese 'Do not support the bloody education, revolt until the end' while calling for a boycott of the education system under the military government that ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a flash mob rally in Tarmwe township in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.
A small group of protesters hold a banner which reads in Burmese 'Do not support the bloody education, revolt until the end' while calling for a boycott of the education system under the military government that ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a flash mob rally in Tarmwe township in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (AP Photo) Photo Gallery

BANGKOK — The United States and six other nations issued a joint statement Friday calling on the international community to suspend all assistance to Myanmar’s military, and expressing grave concern over reports of human rights abuses by its security forces.

The statement comes as fears of an escalation of violence grow in the Southeast Asian nation, whose army is attempting to crush an increasingly active armed opposition movement seeking to end military rule.

“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 statement said.

It said the rights violations include “credible reports of sexual violence and torture,” and highlighted the country’s northwest, where tens of thousands of people have been reported to have been displaced by government attacks.

The countries issuing the statement — the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom — already have embargoed arms sales to Myanmar, whose army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February. They also have instituted targeted diplomatic and economic sanctions meant to pressure the ruling generals behind the takeover.

Such measures, though hurting Myanmar’s economy, have done little to help restore democracy and peace. China and Russia are allies of the military-installed government, and as members of the U.N. Security Council, have effectively blocked concerted international action to isolate the generals. Beijing and Moscow are also the top suppliers of arms to Myanmar.

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