“Myanmar people suffer physically and mentally” — H Talk Asia

Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, will serve as his country’s permanent representative to the international organization in New York for another year, a position he has held since 2020. Status at a meeting on Monday, although a formal announcement has yet to be made must be done.

Myanmar’s military junta, which wrested power from the elected government in a coup in February 2021, opposes the move. His intelligence team said in a comment on instant messaging software app Viber on Wednesday that Kyaw Moe Tun had been fired from his position for betraying the government. The junta also said he represents “terrorist groups” such as Myanmar’s shadow national unity government, its armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces, and the Burmese legislature-in-exile.

Kyaw Moe Tun, who does not represent the military regime, has spoken out against the junta over its attacks on and arrests of anti-regime protesters and ordinary citizens. The Burmese diplomat spoke to reporter Khin Ei Ei of H Talk Asia’s Burmese service about his reappointment and the UN’s response to the violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

RFA: If you are reappointed to the same position as Permanent Representative for another year, do you see more opportunities for you to work on solving the crisis in Myanmar?

Kyaw Moe Tun: I believe that I can continue to work as usual for the good of our people and our country within the framework of a permanent representative. I believe that I will be able to educate the international community more about the issues and problems that the people of Myanmar are facing and be able to do as much as I can for them in any way I can. As I have said before, I will work for the good of the people in accordance with the values ​​of the Charter and I believe that as I work for the righteous desires of the people of Myanmar I will be able to do more and to achieve more for you.

RFA: The UN has been criticized for merely issuing statements expressing concern about the crisis in Myanmar without taking effective action to help the people there. Do you see any possibility that the UN could provide more help and support to the citizens of Myanmar?

Kyaw Moe Tun: The people of Myanmar are suffering physically and mentally. Over 2,500 or nearly 2,600 innocent civilians were lawlessly tortured and killed by the military junta, and large numbers of people were arrested and imprisoned. Over 16,000 people were arrested. The number of civilians who have had to flee their homes for security reasons is steadily increasing, to over 1.4 million to date. About 14 million people in Myanmar face the problem of food shortages, according to the UN. For this reason, we, the local and expatriate people of Myanmar, the Government of National Unity and other organizations have raised our voices on everyday challenges such as loss of life, insufficient food and various problems.

Likewise, on the New York frontline, we are informing the international community about the situation in Myanmar in a variety of ways. However, as the people of Myanmar say, the international community, including the United Nations, has so far failed to take decisive action as we have called for. But in the spirit of multilateralism, some decisions can be made in a day, while others take days or longer.

In November, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly presented a draft resolution on Myanmar entitled “Human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar”. There are phrases in this draft resolution that reflect current events in Myanmar, although they do not cover the whole picture. The resolution was agreed among the member countries. The members of the United Nations Security Council, led by Great Britain, have also been working on a draft proposal for Myanmar since August, which is about to be adopted. We hear that the member countries are discussing the resolution. That’s the progress.

If a resolution for Myanmar is passed in the UN Security Council, it will highlight the atrocities the military junta is committing against innocent people in Myanmar and will in some ways put new pressure on the junta. For this reason, I would like to urge the members of the Security Council to listen carefully to the voice of the people of Myanmar, to consider their real aspirations and problems, and to make decisions that will enable decisive and effective measures to be taken on their vulnerable situation.

RFA: The United Nations office in Yangon has suggested that the United Nations should work with the military junta to help the people? what do you think about this

Kyaw Moe Tun: The UN agencies in Myanmar try in many ways to carry out their tasks, especially to provide effective humanitarian aid to the people. We always remind that while we support them to provide humanitarian aid to our people, aid should reach the people who need it most. But we do not support aid to those close to the military junta. Humanitarian aid should reach indiscriminately all unfortunate people who need it.

This is why we have always suggested that the UN needs to engage and work with all parties involved to get humanitarian aid directly to the people who actually need it. All parties means all organizations including the government of national unity, ethnic revolutionary organizations, NGOs and social support groups and those who are on the front lines of the incidents. We always point out that these groups must be helped indifferently and fairly with full transparency. For this reason, we continue to call on the UN organizations in Myanmar to listen to our suggestions and only help people in the ways we suggest and reach out to those who are really in need and provide humanitarian assistance as soon as possible.

RFA: What can you say about the degree of recognition that the shadow government of national unity has received from the international community, including the United Nations, and their relations?

Kyaw Moe Tun: Looking back at the NUG and our revolution, after 22 months we started building from the ground up [following the military coup], the role of the NUG, ethnic revolutionary organizations and those shaping the people’s revolution is becoming increasingly important. This is an undeniable fact. For this reason, we cannot only look at the United Nations, whose decisions and actions may have some delays, since it is a multilateral organization that each member must take into account.

As Thomas Andrew, the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said, measures such as coordinated and targeted sanctions are necessary because it takes a lot of time and effort for the UN to come to a joint decision. Likewise, the member countries have not yet made a joint decision on the crisis in Myanmar due to differing opinions. It will take some time. Although some countries have not been publicly acknowledged, we have seen many of them connecting and collaborating with the NUG and urging other members to do the same. Therefore we can see progress in the role of the NUG over the last 20 months and now. In light of this progress, I would like to urge all members to continue and expand joint assistance to the people of Myanmar.

Translated by Myo Min Aung for RFA Burmese. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin. Edited by Malcolm Foster.