UN calls on Myanmar military to end violence and release political prisoners

The United Nations has once again called on the Myanmar junta to end the executions, end the violence and release all political prisoners.

Myanmar’s military staged a coup and arrested then-de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and some senior members of her ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The junta claimed it seized power after seeing widespread fraud in elections held three months earlier and Suu Kyi’s NLD winning a landslide. After the coup, the military handed over power to General Min Aung Hlaing and imposed a state of emergency for a year.

The coup has been condemned worldwide and the UN Security Council has already called on the junta to release all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, but to no avail.

In late July, the junta executed four political activists in the country’s first use of the death penalty in more than three decades. Among the dead was Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former NLD lawmaker.

On Wednesday, Noeleen Heyzer, the UN special envoy for Myanmar, called for an end to the violence and the release of all political detainees during her first visit to the troubled South Asian country since her appointment. Last year.

She made the call during a meeting with General Min. According to his office, Heyzer had “directly urged” him “to impose a moratorium on all future executions”.

Additionally, the UN envoy also urged the army chief to immediately end the violence and release all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi’s former adviser, Sean Turnell, an Australian economist.

UN deputy spokeswoman Farhan Haq said that despite Heyzer’s request to meet Suu Kyi, she was unable to do so.

According to Haq, Heyzer and the junta leader had “a good discussion” and that the UN would see if his main demands would be met.

He added that the world body would “continue to press on these points”.

Led largely by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), diplomatic efforts to ease the lingering crisis have made little progress, with junta generals refusing to implement a plan to peace agreed in 2021.

In a meeting with Heyzer, the junta’s foreign minister called on the UN to “constructively and pragmatically review its approach in its cooperation with Myanmar”.

In his closing remarks on Wednesday, Heyzer stressed that the people of Myanmar have the right to democracy and self-determination free from fear and want, which will only be possible through goodwill and effort. of all stakeholders in an inclusive process.

Separately on Wednesday, the junta lambasted ASEAN for excluding its generals from regional rallies, accusing it of caving in to “external pressure”.

“If a seat representing a country is vacant, it should not be called an ASEAN summit,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said.

“What they want is for us to meet and talk with the terrorists,” he added, using the junta label to refer to pro-democracy activists who have taken up arms to counter the army.

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