Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) has expressed extreme disappointment at the United Nation’s (UN) special envoy on Myanmar’s meeting with coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
UN special envoy Noeleen Heyzer met with the junta chief in Naypyitaw on 17 August, despite numerous warnings that it would give an appearance of legitimacy to the military regime. She was also reminded of the failure of the visits of her counterpart from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On Friday, the NUG responded to the meeting with a statement saying that the meeting’s overriding outcome has been to diminish the credibility of both the special envoy and the UN.
“In allowing herself to be photographed shaking hands with a war criminal and his minister, the special envoy has predictably become an instrument for junta propaganda,” the NUG said.
The civilian government said that it acknowledged that the special envoy clarified in a statement issued late Wednesday that the meeting did not “in any way confer legitimacy” on the junta. The NUG said also that it appreciated the Special Envoy’s call for a cessation of violence, respect for human rights, allowing humanitarian access to all those in need, and an end to airstrikes and the burning of civilian houses.
However, those repeated calls must be accompanied with specific consequences,” the NUG said in the statement, pointing out that a village of 600 homes in Magwe Region was burned down by the Myanmar military immediately after the special envoy’s call to end the torching of civilian houses.
“The special envoy should note that the NUG is the legitimate representative of the Myanmar people, and that legitimacy cannot be conferred on a terrorist military junta,” the NUG added.
While the special envoy has claimed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “pragmatic steps” with the junta, the NUG responded that “pragmatism must see the UN direct all of its efforts to supporting the people’s revolution and ending the junta’s violence, its weaponisation of aid, its persecution of political prisoners, and its impunity. Anything short of this is appeasement of a terrorist junta.”
Ms. Heyzer began her first trip to crisis-hit Myanmar a day after the regime sentenced ousted civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to another six years in jail on alleged corruption charges, and less than a month after the junta attracted worldwide condemnation for executing four pro-democracy activists.
She was not allowed to meet with Suu Kyi, who is being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw.
Nor did the special envoy’s visit result in any breakthroughs, with the regime continuing to terrorize Myanmar’s people with killings, bombings, arbitrary arrests and the burning of houses, despite her call for an end to violence.
Following her visit, anti-regime activists in Yangon criticized the UN, accusing it of paying lip service to efforts to end the junta’s hostilities against Myanmar’s people, while taking no practical measures to stop the violence.
The NUG said that to have any chance of restoring the people’s trust, the special envoy must publicly strengthen the UN’s partnership with the NUG, the resistance movement, ethnic armed organizations and civil society, and truly listen to and respect the aspirations of the Myanmar people.