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UN envoy travels to strife-torn Myanmar for the first time

UN envoy travels to strife-torn Myanmar for the first time

Protesters walk through a market with posters of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at Kamayut township in Yangon, Myanmar, on Apr 8, 2021. (File photo: AP)

The United Nations' new special envoy for Myanmar began her first trip to the country on Tuesday (Aug 16), a day after a junta court sentenced ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to six more years in jail for corruption.

The trip by Noeleen Heyzer followed the UN Security Council’s latest call for an immediate end to all forms of violence and unimpeded humanitarian access in the strife-torn country.

Heyzer “will focus on addressing the deteriorating situation and immediate concerns as well as other priority areas of her mandate”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

He gave no details on whether Heyzer would meet with Myanmar’s military rulers or the country’s imprisoned former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a longtime UN demand. Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted on Monday on more corruption charges, adding six years to her earlier 11-year prison sentence.

Heyzer’s visit “follows her extensive consultations with actors from across the political spectrum, civil society as well as communities affected by the ongoing conflict”, Dujarric said.

Heyzer landed in the capital Naypyidaw on Tuesday afternoon, reported AFP, quoting security officials who requested anonymity.

A schedule for her trip has not been released but she is expected to hold meetings in Naypyidaw, according to a diplomatic source who did not give further details.

Earlier this month, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, special envoy to Myanmar for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said efforts by Myanmar’s neighbours to help restore peace and normalcy to the strife-torn nation were hindered by the country’s recent execution of four political activists.

He warned that further executions would force the regional group to reconsider how it engages with fellow member Myanmar.

In February 2021, Myanmar’s army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and then violently cracked down on widespread protests against its actions. After security forces unleashed lethal force on peaceful demonstrators, some opponents of the military rule took up arms.

Myanmar’s military rulers agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability to the country, which includes an immediate halt to violence and a dialogue among all parties. But the country’s military has made little effort to implement the plan, and Myanmar has slipped into a situation that some UN experts have characterised as a civil war.

Heyzer, a women’s rights activist from Singapore, headed UNIFEM, a UN development organisation that focuses on promoting women’s economic advancement, from 1994 to 2007. She was the first woman to serve as executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, from 2007 to 2014.

Source: Agencies/fh/lk

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