Shortly after the 2021 coup, U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, gave a statement of defiance against military rule and stood up for the ousted civilian government.
He flashed a three-finger salute in solidarity with anti-regime protesters before the UN General Assembly in New York in late February 2021 and called on the 193 member states to use any means to reverse the military takeover.
The junta responded by trying to oust him and charging him with high treason but he refused to leave his position and continued to be recognized at the United Nations. For his vocal opposition to the junta’s rule, he was the target of an assassination plot in 2021.
He currently represents the civilian National Unity Government and keeps calling on the UN and international community to stop junta atrocities.
The Irrawaddy recently asked him about the progress over Myanmar at the UN, international weaknesses and failures in addressing the crisis and possible action to stop the junta’s terror campaign.
Could you tell us about how Myanmar’s issue has been going at the UN and what progress has been made?
A United Nations Security Council resolution was adopted on Myanmar [demanding an end to violence and the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint] in December last year.
It is very significant, the first ever on Myanmar. But the military doesn’t follow it.
The resolution didn’t include how to take action against non-compliance, which is a major weakness. There were no clauses in the resolution saying when the Security Council must discuss Myanmar.
Last March, the Security Council was briefed by the UN’s special envoy to Myanmar but there was no specific discussion on the issues after that. The UK took over the Security Council’s presidency in July and it is trying to take action. It held an open debate at the Security Council on women, peace and security and a representative from Myanmar, Naw Hser Hser from the Women’s League of Burma, reported on the situation.
We will monitor whether another resolution will be passed. The United States takes over the presidency in August.
Is the next resolution a follow-up to December’s resolution?
Yes. The resolution has been passed. And we need a follow-up. The first resolution doesn’t include measures to hold the junta accountable for its violations and this needs to be added.
Since the December resolution, the military has continuously committed massacres, like the Pazi Gyi airstrike, which killed almost 200 people. The international community knows about this tragic incident.
There should be measures to take firm action against the junta. The Security Council needs to pass this resolution as soon as possible. This should reduce the junta’s torture and killing to an extent.
The majority of people have been frustrated and discouraged with the UN. What do you want to say about that?
Not only does the public feel frustrated, but we are also too. What we expected and demanded has not yet happened. I am thankful for the things they have tried but there has not been any action to stop the violence.
The UN General Assembly has 193 member states and there are 15 members of the Security Council. We urge those countries to pay attention to Myanmar and act. We understand the hopelessness and frustration of our people.
Action in the international arena can take time but we won’t give up and we will do what we can. Our goal is to put an end to the dictatorship and establish a federal democratic state. Until we reach that goal we have to work in unity.
The more united our people are, the louder our people’s demands become and the less easy it is for the international community to ignore them.
Let’s strengthen our unity, continue to make demands and effective measures will be taken internationally as soon as possible.
What message would like to send to the international community from Myanmar’s people?
They should listen to our people carefully and respect their wishes, taking measures to stop the brutality of the military.
The Security Council can make legally binding decisions to stop the financial flows to the military, in particular, to prevent the use of fighter jets and helicopters.
The international community needs to work vigorously to prevent jet fuel from reaching the military. The faster the international action is taken, the more lives we will be saved. This is urgent.