UN urged to retain Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar ambassador

Civil society groups in Myanmar and overseas say Kyaw Moe Tun has been ‘crucial’ voice for country’s people and government overthrown by the military.

Diplomat Moe Kyaw Tun making the three fingered salute of Myanmar's anti-coup movement at a UN meeting five days after the military seized power. He is sitting at the Myanmar desk in the UN General Assembly
Civil society is urging the UN to retain Myaw Moe Tun as the Myanmar ambassador rather than accepting credentials from a representative of the military rulers that seized power on February 1 [United Nations via AFP]

A group of some 358 Myanmar and international civil society organisations are urging the United Nations to retain Kyaw Moe Tun as the permanent representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, ahead of a meeting this week of the UN’s credentials committee.

In a letter to the members of the General Assembly that released on Monday, the group said Kyaw Moe Tun had provided a “crucial voice” at the UN for the people of Myanmar and the government that was removed by the military in a coup on February 1.

Politicians from the overthrown government have since formed the National Unity Government (NUG), while the military has responded with force to the continuing protests and mass civil disobedience movement against its rule.

“There is a real risk that complacency from UN member states could result in the Myanmar people being robbed of their rightful voice at the UN, or even in the military junta receiving official UN accreditation as representatives of the people they have murdered and tortured so mercilessly,” Khin Ohmar, the founder of Progressive Voice – one of the groups that signed the letter – said in a statement.

“We therefore need any UN member state that values humanity, peace and stability, and respects the will of the people, to reject – as the people of Myanmar categorically have – the military junta and its mass atrocities, and take a stand publicly in support of U Kyaw Moe Tun and the NUG.”

The UN’s Credentials Committee, made up of nine UN member states, including China, Russia and the United States, will meet on Tuesday to consider who should represent Myanmar – Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun or a representative of the generals who seized power seven months ago. The committee will submit its recommendations to the  General Assembly.

Some 1,080 people have been killed in the crackdown since the coup and more than 6,000 people have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Some have fled across the border to Thailand amid air attacks in border areas or to escape the military dragnet.

Kasit Piromya, a board member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and a former foreign minister of Thailand, said it would be a mistake for the UN to recognise a representative from the military.

“The junta is the very antithesis of the UN’s core values of peace, human rights, justice and social progress.” Kasit said in a statement. “Allowing it to sit at the UN would not only undermine any chance of seeing peace and democracy again in Myanmar, but would undermine the credibility of all UN efforts across the globe.”

The UN General Assembly voted in June to condemn the excessive and lethal violence used by Myanmar’s military, also known as the Tatmadaw, in response to the widespread opposition to its power grab.

“Myanmar’s military is responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and continues to kill and arrest its own people for resisting the coup,” said Simon Adams, the executive director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, which was also a signatory to the letter. “No country should recognise or support the Myanmar’s military junta.”

Source: Al Jazeera