UN Security Council calls for Asean Myanmar plan to be enacted

Protesters make the three-finger salute during a demonstration in Yangon on April 27, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The UN Security Council called Friday (April 30) for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar as stated in an Asean plan, giving unanimous approval to a statement watered down to satisfy China and Russia.

The plan, which also calls for the naming of an envoy from the Association of South-east Asian Nations to address the crisis triggered by the February 1 military coup, should be applied "without delay," the council statement says.

It was approved after a closed-door meeting of the council and forced Western countries to make concessions to China - Myanmar's main backer - and Russia to win passage.

At their request the council eliminated clauses that said it "once again strongly condemned violence against peaceful protestors" and "reiterated their call on the military to exercise utmost restraint."

A diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity explained the changes saying "what we must avoid is losing council unity to the point of making it irrelevant."

Since the coup in Myanmar, the council has approved four statements on the crisis including this latest one of Friday.

Friday's session was convened by Vietnam to present the conclusions of a recent Asean summit in Indonesia.

The statement that was ultimately passed calls for the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Ms Christine Schraner Burgener, who is currently touring the region, to be able to visit Myanmar "as soon as possible."

Ms Schraner Burgener gave a report on her long meeting with Myanmar junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing, held on the sidelines of the Asean meeting last weekend.

Diplomats said the envoy, who is currently based in Bangkok, once again had her request for a visit to Myanmar denied.

During the meeting, Brunei, which currently holds the presidency of Asean, floated the idea of a joint visit to Myanmar by the UN envoy and her future Asean counterpart.

"We estimate around 20,000 internal displacements and almost 10,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries since February. The regional implications require urgent action," Ms Schraner Burgener told the council, according to the text of her speech, which was seen by AFP.

"The common aspiration for democracy has united the people of Myanmar across religious, ethnic and communal divides like never before. Such strong unity has created unexpected difficulties for the military in consolidating power and stabilising the coup," she added.

Nearly 760 civilians have been killed by police and soldiers in the past three months, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The junta puts the death toll at 258 dead by April 15, calling the demonstrators "rioters" who engaged in "acts of terrorism".

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