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Myanmar's UN ambassador appeals to world body for action to end military coup

Myanmar's UN ambassador appeals to world body for action to end military coup

Screengrab of Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun addressing the General Assembly on Feb 26, 2021. (Video: YouTube/United Nations)

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 (Feb 26) "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.

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.

READ: Myanmar's civil servant strikes start to bite

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 per cent 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.

Schraner Burgener expressed concern for the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State sent more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into Bangladesh, where they are still stranded. Guterres and Western states have accused the Myanmar army of ethnic cleansing, which it denies.

"We must ask, how can we rely on a military regime when the very same led the security operations leading to the human rights violations and forced displacement of Rohingya people and others from their homes?" Schraner Burgener said.

Source: Reuters/ap/dv

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