Myanmar’s UN ambassador appeals for ‘action against military’

Published February 27, 2021
Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun holds up three fingers at the end of his speech to the General Assembly where he pleaded for International action in overturning the military coup in his country. — Reuters
Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun holds up three fingers at the end of his speech to the General Assembly where he pleaded for International action in overturning the military coup in his country. — Reuters

NEW YORK: Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, speaking for the country’s elected civilian government ousted in a military coup on Feb 1, appealed to the United Nations on Friday “to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military” to restore democracy to the Southeast Asian country.

He addressed the 193-member UN General Assembly after Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, warned that no country should recognise or legitimise the Myanmar junta and all efforts must be made to restore democracy.

“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy,” Kyaw Moe Tun said to applause and praise from Western and Islamic counterparts.

Schraner Burgener pushed for a collective “clear signal in support of democracy” as she sounded the alarm over the coup, urging “influential” countries to push the military to allow an independent assessment of the situation.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party after the military complained of fraud in a November election.

“Regrettably, the current regime has so far asked me to postpone any visit. It seems they want to continue making large-scale arrests and have been coercing people to testify against the NLD Government. This is cruel and inhumane,” Schraner Burgener said.

The country has been largely paralysed by weeks of protests and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the military. While military chief General Min Aung Hlaing says authorities are using minimal force during the protests, three protesters and one policeman have been killed.

“If there is any escalation in terms of military crackdown and sadly as we have seen this before in Myanmar against people exercising their basic rights, let us act swiftly and collectively,” Schraner Burgener said.

The army has promised an election, but has not given a date. It has imposed a one-year state of emergency.

The question of an election is at the center of a diplomatic effort by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), of which Myanmar is a member. Indonesia has taken the lead, but coup opponents fear the efforts will confer legitimacy on the junta.

“It is important the international community does not lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime,” Schraner Burgener said. “The result of the election of November 2020 was clear with 82 percent of the votes for the NLD.” Guterres has pledged to mobilise enough international pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.” The Security Council has voiced concern over the state of emergency, but stopped short of condemning the coup.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2021

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