Myanmar diplomat alerts UN to alleged military ‘massacre’ | Human Rights News


Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, who has refused to leave his post despite being fired after the military seized power in a coup six months ago, has alerted the world body to a “reported massacre” by the military regime.

Kyaw Moe Tun sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying 40 bodies had been found in Kani township in the Sagaing area of northwestern Myanmar in July, the AFP news agency reported on Wednesday.

The generals have denied the allegations, while AFP said it was not able to independently verify the reports due to mobile networks being cut in the Sagaing region.

Kyaw Moe Tun alleged that soldiers tortured and killed 16 men in a village in the township around July 9 and 10, after which 10,000 residents fled the area.

He said a further 13 bodies were discovered in the days following clashes between local fighters and security forces on July 26.

Kyaw Moe Tun added that a further 11 men, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed and set on fire in a separate village on July 28.

In the letter, the ambassador repeated his call for a global arms embargo on the military and “urgent humanitarian intervention” from the international community.

“We cannot let the military keep on doing this kind of atrocity in Myanmar,” Kyaw Moe Tun told AFP.

“It is time for the UN, especially the UN Security Council, to take action.”

Threat against diplomat

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army removed the civilian leadership on February 1, launching a crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 900 people, according to a local monitoring group.

Kyaw Moe Tun has rejected the coup and brushed aside the military’s claims that he no longer represents Myanmar. The United Nations still considers him as the rightful envoy.

The representative was sacked by the military in February, a day after he gave a three-finger salute at the UN General Assembly following an impassioned speech calling for the return of civilian rule.

The “Hunger Games” gesture has been widely used by pro-democracy demonstrators in the country and in neighbouring Thailand.

The representative was sacked by Myanmar’s military in February, a day after he gave a three-finger salute at the UN General Assembly following an impassioned speech calling for the return to civilian rule in his country [File: United Nations]

Kyaw Moe Tun, who has repeatedly called for international intervention to help end unrest in Myanmar, said on Wednesday that United States authorities had boosted his security after an apparent threat was made against him.

“There was a reported threat against me,” he told AFP.

“The police and the security authorities here in New York are working on it,” he added, without giving details about the nature of the threat.

Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday that elections would be held and a state of emergency lifted by August 2023, extending the one-year timeline the military announced days after seizing power.

Myanmar’s coup opposition and many in the international community, including the US, have condemned the announcement, calling it a delaying tactic to prevent the country’s return to democratic rule.

On Wednesday, Wendy Sherman, the number two diplomat in the US, held a discussion with Zin Mar Aung, a representative of Myanmar’s government in exile, in the first announced contact between a senior US official and a member of the National Unity Government, established by members of the elected administration the military removed.

The two discussed efforts to return the country to a path to democracy, including continued US support for the pro-democracy movement, the State Department said in a statement.  They also discussed efforts to combat the surging COVID-19 outbreak and humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, sporadic protests continued across the country on Thursday, with social media reporting a pre-dawn march against the military in Myaing Township in Magway.

Social media also showed protests in other parts of the country, including in the largest city of Yangon as well as in Mandalay and Dawei.

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