UN-backed troops must halt Myanmar bloodbath, envoy says

Myanmar’s UN ambassador urged major powers to consider deploying soldiers to protect civilians

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun addresses the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
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An envoy for Myanmar’s recently overthrown government on Friday pushed the UN to impose sanctions as well as a no-fly zone and even plan military efforts to restore the country’s democratically elected leadership.

Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, who has kept his role despite a military coup in February, made an impassioned plea for help amid the army’s deadly crackdown on a wave of pro-democracy protests.

"Your collective, strong action is needed immediately," Mr Kyaw Moe Tun said.

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“The international community and the UN Security Council have the responsibility to use all necessary means to help protect the people of Myanmar from atrocities, brutal and inhumane acts committed by the military.”

By using such phrases as “all necessary means” and the “responsibility to protect”, the envoy invoked boilerplate UN terms for approving international military operations against rogue actors.

He also called for a no-fly zone to ground Myanmar’s warplanes, which have been deployed since the coup against ethnic militias, and for a global arms embargo and the freezing of bank accounts linked to members of the military and their families.

“Time is of the essence for us,” he added. “Please, please take action."

Mr Kyaw Moe Tun spoke at the first public discussion on Myanmar by the UN Security Council’s 15 members since the putsch in February.

A member of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of politicians that seeks to restore the civilian government, also addressed the virtual gathering.

The Security Council has condemned the violence against protesters but has not called the military takeover a coup or threatened reprisals due to opposition from China, Russia and other members.

The US has imposed its own sanctions on the junta's economic interests and on Thursday added a state-owned gem firm to its list of targets.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said world powers needed to work harder to restore democratic rule in the country.

UN envoy warns of 'imminent bloodbath' in Myanmar

UN envoy warns of 'imminent bloodbath' in Myanmar

"We've been warning for some time that there has been a significant rise in violence and the situation cannot go on like this," Mr Haq said in answer to a question from The National.

“We'll see how the members take up their responsibility. But, certainly, the doctrine of the responsibility to protect is one that has now been well established.”

The UN's envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, arrived on Friday in the Thai capital of Bangkok in the hope of talks with Myanmar’s ruling junta, but said she was told by the generals they were not ready to receive her.

“I regret that [Myanmar's military] Tatmadaw answered me yesterday that they are not ready to receive me. I am ready for dialogue. Violence never leads to peaceful sustainable solutions,” Ms Schraner Burgener said on Twitter.

More than 600 civilians have been killed in Myanmar since the junta seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar’s champion of democracy for decades, has been held at an undisclosed location since the coup and charged with crimes that could see her jailed and banned from politics.

Her National League for Democracy won an election in November but the army – which had ruled Myanmar for much of its post-independence history – claimed the vote had been marred by fraud.