SINGAPORE: Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun has urged the international community to step up pressure on the military regime, while vowing to continue resisting the junta for as long as he can.
In an interview with CNA in New York on Friday (Mar 12), the envoy thanked the UN security council for issuing a presidential statement to condemn the violence against the protesters. The statement, which was issued on Wednesday, was unanimously approved by all 15 security council members.
“At the same time … the elements contained in the presidential statement doesn’t meet our expectations. So we (would) really like to have a stronger statement from the security council and stronger action from the security council,” he said.
“That is (what) the people of Myanmar really want … We need the protection from the international community,” he added.
The presidential statement is a step below a resolution but becomes part of the official record of the security council.
The ambassador added that the young people are the future of Myanmar and need to be protected.
“If we cannot do (it) by ourselves, we need to get the help from the international community,” he said.
Myanmar has been in crisis since the military ousted the elected government in a Feb 1 coup.
READ: Row over who represents coup-hit Myanmar at UN
The military has justified the coup saying that a November election, won by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, was marred by fraud. The electoral commission has rejected these allegations.
Protests have been held in various parts of the country and they have been met by crackdowns of increasing severity. At least 70 people have been killed so far, according to the UN.
On Feb 26, Kyaw Moe Tun appealed to the UN to use any means necessary to end the military coup. He was dismissed the next day by the junta for “betraying the country”.
The junta named his deputy Tin Maung Naing as Myanmar’s acting UN envoy. Tin Maung Naing then tendered his resignation, leaving Kyaw Moe Tun as head of the diplomatic mission.
The UN does not officially recognise the junta as Myanmar’s new government. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: "We have not received any communication concerning changes to the representation of Myanmar at the United Nations in New York."
Other senior Myanmar diplomats, including those serving in Washington DC and London, have also spoken out against the military.
READ: Myanmar army's pick as UN envoy resigns in diplomatic power struggle
SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT HAVE SPILLOVER EFFECT ON THE PEOPLE
Kyaw Moe Tun said he respected the different positions of the UN member states and the security council members.
“They have their (own) position, they have their own stance, so we need to respect them.”
If there is no resolution from the security council, one alternative, Kyaw Moe Tun said, is to create a coalition of like-minded countries to cut the financial flows to the Myanmar military, which would help put the junta in a “difficult position”.
“There should be the other tools to put pressure on the military regime, to return the state power to the people of Myanmar,” he said.
READ: Myanmar military likely behind 'crimes against humanity': UN expert
Earlier this week, the United States imposed sanctions on two children of Myanmar's military leader Min Aung Hlaing and six companies controlled by them, the latest in a series of punitive actions. Britain, the European Union and Canada are among those who have imposed sanctions on the junta and their allies as well.
Thomas Andrews, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar has proposed that a coalition of nations could work together to stop financial flows to the junta’s coffers.
Kyaw Moe Tun said that measures to put financial pressure on the junta should be targeted.
“Please make the minimum spillover effect on the people of Myanmar. That is the point. It is very important for the country,” he said.
ASEAN WAY HAS “LIMITATIONS”
When asked if he agreed with Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s observation that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could help to facilitate a return to normalcy, the ambassador replied that there is no doubt that the member states want to help each other to resolve issues in a peaceful and amicable manner.
“At the same time, there are limitations (in) the way that ASEAN works … In ASEAN, whatever we do, we do with the consensus … Sometimes that consensus makes things slightly difficult,” he said.
“Time is really (of the) essence for Myanmar people, especially civilians, innocent civilians. So we need to protect them. We need to get the constructive action that protects the people of Myanmar. That is what we are longing for, that is what we are expecting from the international community, including our ASEAN family members."
On Mar 2, ASEAN’s foreign ministers held an informal meeting, after which they urged a halt to violence and said talks should begin on a peaceful solution in Myanmar.
In the lead up to the meeting, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi joined a tripartite meeting in Bangkok with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as their junta appointed counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin.
Commenting on whether it would be useful for ASEAN member states to engage directly with the junta and facilitate dialogue, Kyaw Moe Tun pointed out that he had urged the UN against recognising the military regime.
“We would like to have that dialogue,” he said, while asserting that what is first needed is the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint, other government leaders as well as unlawful detainees.
“The release of them is really important for all of us. Otherwise, we will not get meaningful dialogue. That is my personal point of view.”
Kyaw Moe Tun only took up post in New York last October.
Before his current appointment, he was Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN office and other international organisations in Geneva, as well as the conference on disarmament.
Earlier, he served as a diplomat in Indonesia, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
“I WILL FIGHT BACK THE MILITARY REGIME AS LONG AS I CAN”
During the interview, the envoy said that he expected the military to act against him after his Feb 26 address in the UN.
“Since the beginning, I already decided (that) I will fight back the military regime as long as I can and until the end of the military coup. This is my resolution, this is my desire, for the people of Myanmar,” he said.
“So I will continue to do it as the permanent representative of Myanmar here in New York.”
When asked if there was much upheaval at the Myanmar mission to the UN after his address, Kyaw Moe Tun recounted that although his colleagues applauded him, at the same time everyone had concerns with regard to themselves and their family members back home.
“All of us people, we don’t like the military coup. We want to end the military coup as quick as possible, as soon as possible. This is the desire of the people. But the degree may differ from one to another,” he said.
The ambassador said he too was concerned that his actions would result in potential risks for his parents and family members.
“But after I delivered the statement, I got feedback from my parents; they said that they are proud of me, so I feel happy.”