Statement by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun at the Informal briefing by Special Envoy of Secretary-General
Statement by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations at the Informal briefing by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar to the United Nations General Assembly
(New York, 18 June 2021)
I thank you Mr. President for organizing this timely briefing by the Special Envoy on Myanmar. I also wish to thank Special Envoy Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener for her comprehensive briefing and her continued support towards Myanmar.
The situation in Myanmar is an unfolding tragedy that continues to escalate over time; our people do not have access to enough cash, food is becoming scarcer, efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has been put on hold, and supply chains for medicines have all dried up. In addition to the ongoing military’s brutality and violence against civilians, the people of Myanmar are facing serious humanitarian crisis.
I am here again to apprise this august body of the current situation in Myanmar. I am here to bring the voices of the Myanmar people and the National Unity Government. More than 130 days after the unlawful coup in Myanmar, there is no sign of easing the brutal crackdown and the violence committed by the military against its own people. As of 17 June 2021, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total of 6134 people have been arrested and 865 people have been ruthlessly murdered by the military since 1 February. We demand that our leaders State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and all other unlawful detainees must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Nascent democracy of Myanmar was attacked again on 1 February, and with disregarding the will of the people, the military staged an illegal coup. In their quest for democracy, the people of Myanmar had made their choices on the November 2020 elections, and it was indeed a significant milestone of our country. There is no way to turn back for the people of Myanmar from where we were before 1 February. While the people of Myanmar inside and outside the country are determined to stop the illegal military rule and to restore democracy, our fellow citizens in Myanmar are trying their utmost to defend their own lives and the lives of others. The brutality, inhumane acts, arbitrary arrests, tortures committed by the military are clearly amounting to serious human rights violations.
While the international community has condemned the coup, and some countries have imposed measures against the military, it is still operating in its own twisted reality ignoring the international community’s pressure and measures. The State Administration Council (SAC) continues ignoring the calls from the international community to ease the violence and committing further atrocities amounting to crimes against humanity.
I wish to again draw your kind attention to this continued deteriorating situation in Myanmar, particularly in Mindat of Chin State and in Demoso and Loikaw of Kayah State. Due to the Tatmadaw’s terrorist actions against the innocent people of Mindat, Chin State, the Chin Defense Force (CDF), by exercising the right to self-defense, has been defending the defenseless people of Mindat. In May 2021, the Tatmadaw sent more forces to the areas near Mindat while the attack helicopters were hovering about the houses of the people in Mindat. In addition to the human shield used in the attacks, the military shot inside the town with heavy artilleries. Because of the unproportionate and discriminate attacks, many innocent people were killed, many were injured, so many were displaced. The military arrested the healthcare workers who are volunteering to provide healthcare assistance to the injured people.
In Kayah State, because of the irrational tortures and inhumane treatments of the military, the Karenni People’s Defense Force (PDF) in Kayah State has been triggering the armed resistance with homemade guns. Since then, the military has been responding with heavy artillery and airstrikes onto the residential areas, which has led to the displacement of around 1 million of local people. This is evidently a systematic brutal attack against civilians using weapons of war in order to hold onto power and control. The situation in my country has not gotten better and regretfully even getting worse.
Similar inhumane acts took place in Ayeyarwaddy Region and Magway Region. On 5 June 2021, in Kyonpyaw Township in Ayeyarwady region, There were clashes between villagers and the military forces after a villager was taken into custody on early morning. The military accused him of transporting weapons. Shootout between two sides lasted for about an hour and three civilians were shot dead including a 19-year-old youth. According to the information received, the military took control of Hlay Swel village and villagers from eight neighbouring villages fled their homes.
On June 15, the military troops burned down the entire village of Kinma in Pauk Township, Magway region, leaving two dead and approximately 1,000 people homeless. It has been reported by the local independent media that as the elderly and the sick persons couldn’t run for their lives, they burned to death in the fire.
These horrific acts committed by the military continue amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes. It clearly constitutes the clear violation of Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949. Protecting civilians must always be a top priority under every circumstance, not only in armed conflicts. But in complete disrespect of the international laws and principles, the Myanmar military has been terrorizing the civilians since the illegal coup on February 1. I have no doubt that the military will continue to show a total disregard for human life, with no humanity.
The United Nations’ call to “spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access” has been completely ignored by the military. There have been on the dire need for medical aid in vulnerable areas of the country, and the military has been arresting the healthcare workers who volunteered to provide medical assistance to the injured. These are clear violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
In the aftermath of the military coup, collapsing economy, unrest, breakdown of public health system, growing internal displacement, and difficulty to access aid in need are leading to a humanitarian crisis in my country, Myanmar. The World Food Program suggests that some 6.2 million people in Myanmar will face a severe hunger crisis in the coming months. Despite all those real situations, the military continues blocking and destroying humanitarian assistance. On June 13, an ambulance, food, medical supplies, and basic needs for the civilians were destroyed and set fire. Those supplies were contributed by people across the country for internally displaced persons.
We are still amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the military evidently fails to manage the pandemic. The National Unity Government of Myanmar has been taking necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus and engaging with the people.
The people of Myanmar do not want military rule, and we have made our voices loud and clear. Continued military brutal crackdown on the civilians and pro-democracy movements are amounting to crimes against humanity. The National Unity Government together with the people of Myanmar has been calling on the United Nations and the international community to take collective and decisive action on the military to ease violence and to stop killing its own people.
In concluding, when we think of current situation in Myanmar based on humanity and empathy, as if it were our grandparents or our relatives or our brothers, our sisters, how would it be? It is indeed very difficult for all of us. But still, we are of the view that the international community can do something about it and the United Nations in particular the UN Security Council must recognize the urgent need to take decisive action. Adhering to the purposes and principles of the UN charter, we must take effective collective measures of the prevention of war crimes in Myanmar. And it’s time for the U.N. Security Council to consider Myanmar crisis seriously and take decisive action against the military immediately.
Why I said so is that on 26 February 2021, at this august body, I appealed the international community to take strongest possible action to immediately end the military coup. In 100 days after the appeal, almost 900 people including many young people and children as young as 7 year-old girl were murdered. The people of Myanmar pointed out that if the international community including the United Nations had taken a decisive and timely action against the military, it would have prevented from loss of over 800 innocent lives of civilians.
Sadly, the growing violence and inhumane acts of the military continue. Every day that the international community stalls in taking action is another day of death, violence, and torture for the people of Myanmar. The people in Myanmar are helpless, and we need the international community’s concrete, decisive and unified action in a timely manner. I again appeal the international community to ACT NOW.
I thank you, Mr. President.
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