Ahead of UN Meeting, Local and Int’l Groups Call to Keep Myanmar’s Ambassador in Place

By The Irrawaddy 13 September 2021

Prior to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, 358 local and international civil society organizations urged the UN member nations and their representatives to keep the current Myanmar ambassador as the rightful representative for the country despite the Myanmar military regime’s attempt to replace him with someone loyal to them, as the UN’s Credentials Committee will meet on Tuesday to consider who should represent Myanmar.

The organizations based in Myanmar, Asia, Europe and the US called for support as Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun has done important work representing Myanmar’s democratically elected government, which was ousted by the junta in February, and its people at the UN.

Following the coup, the ambassador rejected the takeover on the UN floor in late February and pledged his loyalty to the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government and its offshoot the National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government formed by elected lawmakers from the NLD and its ethnic allies. Since then the junta has been trying to replace him but so far in vain. There was also an assassination attempt against the US-based ambassador but the plot was disrupted when the FBI arrest some of those involved.

In June, the UNGA condemned the Myanmar junta and demanded it end the takeover, stop killing opponents and free jailed civilian leaders.

Despite the UN criticism, the junta’s killing has continued. As of Saturday, 1,080 people have been killed in crackdowns since the coup and more than 6,000 people have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a human rights group tracking the regime’s atrocities.

The 76th UNGA will start on Tuesday. U Kyaw Moe Tun was appointed by the UN as Myanmar’s representative in 2020 under the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led civilian government before the coup. The NUG has also approved him as their representative at the world’s body.

A seat at the United Nations is important for a country as it represents the government’s legitimacy and  international acceptance. The representation also permits the country to participate at the UN, not only at the UNGA but in other UN agencies like the World Health Organization.

In their open letter to the UN member nations and their representatives, the CSOs called on the UN credentials committee to reject the junta’s nominee but to accept U Kyaw Moe Tun as “he represents the government elected by the people”, referring to the NUG.

The CSOs also called on the UN not to defer and vacate the post, and not to do anything to silence U Kyaw Moe at the UN.

“To do so is against the UN Charter as well as encouraging the junta’s power grab and their terror on civilians,” they said.

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