Guwahati: Over 400 civil society groups of Burma (also known as Myanmar) on 9 April 2021 condemned Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) for attending the Armed Forces Day of Tatmadow (popular name of Myanmar Armed Forces) recently alleging that it was against the fundamental principles of neutrality and conflict sensitivity pursued by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“We call on ICRC, IFRC, and other MRCS partners to ensure that the Myanmar counterpart upholds the principles of neutrality, ethical conduct and do no harm to its founding spirits. MRCS and its partners must be fully committed to their duty to promote and respect international humanitarian law and not legitimize the illegitimate military junta which might lead to a serious loss of confidence among
Myanmar civil society and the public at large,” said a statement issued by the organisations.
Those in attendance at the lavish celebrations at Tatmadow Day on 27 March 2021 lend much sought after legitimacy to the brutal military junta. It is a shameful act of tacit endorsement for a military that has inflicted untold suffering and daily attacks on the common people of Myanmar since the unlawful coup on 1 February last, added the statement.
Within these days, the military regime has engaged in targeted killings of over 641 people, while nearly 3,000 individuals are currently detained (or sentenced), in relation to the brutal military coup. Tragically, number of fatalities includes at least 47 children, who were killed in deliberate attacks. Simultaneously, the military is continuing its decades-long civil war in the ethnic borderlands of Myanmar.
In Myanmar, many vulnerable communities repose faith on the Red Cross symbol as a sign of hope, assistance and protection, but the recent action of MRCS leadership (while attending the Tatmadow function) has betrayed the trust and confidence. The focus of MRCS’s efforts should be concentrated on maximizing the on-the-ground response to the junta’s inhumane and murderous acts.
Additionally, attending an event celebrating the accomplishments of a military that has perpetrated genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity (including sexual and gender-based crimes, torture and destruction of properties) is a disgraceful display of disloyalty to tireless efforts of MRCS volunteers and healthcare workers working on the ground. Many MRCS operatives are even facing arbitrarily arrests, intimidation and injuries by the junta.
It is essential for maintaining the independence and neutrality of the Red Cross and Red Crescent that MRCS is not aligned with the military junta, stated the groups adding that at the ongoing crucial time in the southeast Asian nation, the IFRC, ICRC and their international partners must alleviate the suffering, and assist the Burmese people and definitely not the illegitimate and murderous military regime in NayPieTaw.