Burma

Myanmar Govt to Send Special Envoy to UN

By Htet Naing Zaw 15 August 2017

NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar government will dispatch a special envoy to be stationed in New York where the UN is headquartered to explain the Rakhine issue to the international community, said U Kyaw Zeya, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He mentioned the plan in response to The Irrawaddy’s question during the Asean 50th anniversary celebration in Naypyitaw on Monday.

“We met concerned directors-general and explored ideas. We’ve made proper preparations to assign a separate body,” said U Kyaw Zeya.

The Rakhine issue calls for cooperation and coordination among all ministries to find an answer, he said.

“We can’t shift the responsibility to each other. We have difficulties handling this issue but we’ll try to achieve success by working together. Not only our foreign ministry, but other agencies are also working to find a solution,” said U Kyaw Zeya.

On July 24, Daw Thandar, a well-known human rights activist and National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker, submitted an emergency proposal to the Lower House to condemn UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee’s end-of-mission statement after concluding her recent visit to the country on July 21.

Lee said she was “disappointed to see the tactics applied by the previous government still being used,” and that she would “strongly urge the government” to allow an international independent body to investigate allegations of rights abuses particularly in Rakhine State, and in conflict regions in Myanmar at large.

Daw Thandar’s proposal was unanimously approved by the parliament. Daw Pyone Kaythi Naing, an NLD lawmaker from Shan State’s Kalaw, additionally proposed sending a special envoy to the UN to counter international allegations and provide briefings outlining Myanmar’s legislative perspective on the situation in Rakhine State.

She told The Irrawaddy that Myanmar’s government was only able to respond after international agencies make allegations, and that the government should take the initiative to explain the situation to the UN first.

Daw Pyone Kaythi Naing, who is also a member of the Lower House International Relations Committee, has consistently promoted the idea of sending a special envoy to the UN whenever there has been parliamentary debate on issues in Rakhine State.

“We are in a defensive position, while the other side has disseminated widespread propaganda in the international community,” she told The Irrawaddy.

“The government should send a special envoy—a respected figure with diplomatic expertise—to the UN to counter it,” she added.

The State Counselor’s Office announced on August 11 that it was considering imposing a curfew in certain areas in Rakhine State; and that it would cooperate with the Myanmar Army to counter militancy. Since militants attacked border police posts in Maungdaw last October, 59 people have been killed and 33 went missing as of August 9, according to the State Counselor’s Office.

According to sources from Rakhine State, Myanmar Army troops in cooperation with local security forces are conducting clearance operations in the Mayu Mountain Range, where they claim that militants are hiding. “Clearance operations” carried out in the area after the October border guard post attack resulted in widespread accusations of human rights abuses committed by the military.

The Myanmar government should find a long-term solution, spur economic development, and create education and job opportunities in Rakhine State rather than isolating communities, said political analyst U Tin Maung Than.

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