UN special envoy to Myanmar urges immediate end to violence

BANGKOK (AP) — UN special envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer met the head of her military government on Wednesday and called for an end to all violence on her first mission to the conflict-torn country, her office said.

In his talks with General-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Heyzer expanded on a recent UN Security Council call for full respect for human rights and the rule of law, an immediate cessation of all violence and unrestricted humanitarian access. to all those in need. he said his office in a statement.

State television MRTV confirmed the meeting, saying Heyzer and Min Aung Hlaing exchanged views on promoting trust and cooperation between Myanmar and the United Nations. He did not provide any details about the talks in the Myanmar capital, Naypyitaw.

Myanmar has been rocked by violent unrest since the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year. The military takeover prevented Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party from starting a second term.

The inauguration was met with massive public opposition, which has since escalated into armed resistance that some UN experts, including Heyzer’s predecessor, Christine Schraner Burgener, have characterized as a civil war. Critics of the military have accused him of committing widespread human rights abuses to crush opposition to his rule.

The statement from Heyzer’s office said she called for “immediate and specific de-escalation steps, including an end to aerial bombardment and the burning of civilian homes and infrastructure.”

MRTV reported that Heyzer held a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and said that he explained the current developments in Myanmar and told Heyzer that the United Nations needed to review its approach in its cooperation with Myanmar. He did not elaborate.

Heyzer’s visit follows the military government’s recent execution of four political activists, which drew worldwide condemnation. The statement from her office said she “directly urged the commanding general to impose a moratorium on all future executions (and) reiterated the United Nations secretary-general’s call for the release of all political prisoners.”

It said it also forwarded a request from the Australian government for the release of Australian economist Sean Turnell, who served as an adviser to Suu Kyi and is being tried with her on charges of violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.

Much of the international community, including Myanmar’s members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have expressed frustration at the hard line the generals have taken to resist reform. Myanmar’s military rulers agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability in the country, including an immediate cessation of violence and dialogue between all parties. But the military has made little effort to implement the plan.

It was unknown if Heyzer will meet with Suu Kyi, who is being held in prison in Naypyitaw. She has been prosecuted in a series of criminal cases widely seen as politically motivated by the ruling military. The government has refused to allow him to meet strangers, including a special ASEAN envoy.

Heyzer requested a meeting with Suu Kyi, according to the statement from his office.

“I am deeply concerned for the health and well-being of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her current situation, and request that she be able to return home soon,” she was quoted as saying. “I want the opportunity to meet with her as soon as possible, both because I care about her personally and because I believe she is a critical stakeholder for my dialogue with all parties involved.”

The Government of National Unity, the main opposition organization that sees itself as Myanmar’s legitimate government, issued a statement after Heyzer’s arrival on Tuesday, saying his visit should aim to end military violence. and that their conversations must reflect the voice of the people of Myanmar.

“The visit of the special envoy must be aimed at putting an end to the violence of the junta, its militarization of aid, its persecution of political prisoners and its impunity. Intensified efforts must also target the multiple junta-induced crises that destabilize peace and security in the region. Anything less than this would be appeasement of war criminals,” he said. “Ms. Heyzer’s consultations must include Myanmar’s ethnic resistance organizations and civil society, and amplify the voices of the Myanmar people.”


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