Myanmar’s Crisis & the World

Myanmar Regime Representatives Barred From Swiss Development Summit

By The Irrawaddy 9 December 2022

Switzerland has snubbed Myanmar’s military regime and barred its representatives from attending the Global Effective Development Co-operation Summit in Geneva, following protests from rights groups.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the host for the summit, had previously invited the junta’s deputy minister of investment and foreign economic relations, Dr Wah Wah Maung, to attend the summit virtually, along with representatives from the regime-controlled Myanmar Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.

After confirmation of the regime’s attendance was announced, the campaign group Justice For Myanmar (JFM) and other civil society groups urged the Swiss Government to snub the junta’s representatives and instead invite the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN, U Kyaw Moe Tun. In a statement issued Thursday, JFM said U Kyaw Moe Tun has the authority to represent the people of Myanmar within the UN System.

On Wednesday, in their reply to JFM via social media, the SDC stated that “the summit will be open to representatives of governments accredited by the UN General Assembly, which is not yet the case for Myanmar.”

JFM said in its Thursday press release that it welcomed the Swiss Government’s decision to bar the junta from attending the summit.

“The Myanmar junta is an illegal, terrorist organization and should never have been invited in the first place,” said Yadanar Maung, the JFM spokesperson.

“To truly stand for effective development cooperation, the summit should invite U Kyaw Moe Tun, the Myanmar Permanent Representative to the UN and recognize and engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar as an urgent priority,” she added.

The campaign group said also that the international community needs to cooperate effectively with the NUG to support the country’s future development, in the face of its near collapse due to the junta’s coup and its war of terror against the Myanmar people.

The summit is scheduled to be held December 12 to 14. It will involve representatives of development providers and recipient governments, the UN Development Programme, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, multilateral development banks, parliaments, business and civil society.

Switzerland’s government was also criticized by rights groups for providing further legitimacy to the junta and fodder for the regime’s propaganda, following the December 5 meeting in Naypyitaw between Tim Enderlin, the Swiss Ambassador to Myanmar, and the junta-appointed minister of international cooperation Ko Ko Hlaing.

Faced with daily attacks from People’s Defense Forces and ethnic armed organizations, the junta has been escalating its atrocities across the country including arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of both civilians and resistance fighters, massacres, burning people alive, using civilian detainees as human shields, artillery and airstrikes on civilian areas, looting and burning houses and sexual acts of violence.

As of Thursday, 2,565 people have been killed by the junta since last year’s coup, while 16,540 people including elected government leaders have been arrested or detained, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that monitors deaths and arrests.