Military blocks Mandalay Region Government Office after 2021 Myanmar coup d’état
New York: After the initial hiccups, when Russia and China blocked a United Nations Security Council statement that condemned the coup in Myanmar, the UNSC finally came out on February 4, 2021 with a unanimous statement seeking release of all including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint by the army in the country, and pledging ‘continued support’ for Myanmar’s democratic transition.
The Council President Barbara Woodward (United Kingdom) stated that the members expressed their “deep concern” at the declaration of the state of emergency imposed in Myanmar by the military on February 1, and the arbitrary detention of members of the Government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and others. The Council members called for the immediate release of all those detained, and stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. “They encouraged the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar,” Woodward further stated.
While reaffirming their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar, the Council members expressed concern at the restrictions on civil society, journalists and media workers, and also called for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, including through the re‑establishment of United Nations relief flights. While they highlighted the need to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State and to create conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified return of displaced Rohingyas, they also reiterated their support to the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar for her good offices. The Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener had earlier told the Security Council members to collectively send a “clear signal” in support of democracy in Myanmar.
Interestingly, much drama was still to unfold as the spokesperson of the Permanent Mission of China reportedly expressed the Mission’s shock that there were leaks during the work of the Security Council in a closed door meeting. To a specific question in this regard, on whether such leaks were useful or not, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters: “Listen, you guys do your job. I do my job. And somewhere in the middle, we meet through official statements and leaks. I mean, I have no comment on… Member States are free to… and are… should be able to express themselves freely. Whether leaks are good or bad, I will leave that for a panel discussion at a school for journalists.”
Dujarric, though, when asked about the UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ response to the fact that the now the Security Council had come on the same page, said: “I think it’s very welcome that, relatively quickly, the Council came together to speak with one voice, which is…exactly what we had asked for.”
Guterres had also talked about mobilising all actors and international community to make sure that the military coup in Myanmar fails, and according to the spokesman, now the statement issued by the Security Council unanimously sends a very strong signal and includes the Permanent Five and the elected ten. “I think that in itself sends a strong statement,” Dujarric said, and added that UN envoy and various others in the Secretariat, including the Secretary‑General, will continue to have contacts with various parties on this issue, “all with the same aim”. He asserted: “So, now we’re focused on what will happen on the ground.” When asked on the impact on the Rohingya refugees in the region, he said, “of course, it will have an impact on Rohingya refugees everywhere, but it will have an impact on the people… it has an impact on the people of Myanmar”. He reaffirmed that the issues of Rohingyas were the at the forefront of the UN’s concern. “… we will continue our advocacy for the Rohingyas and all the… frankly, all the people of Myanmar,” he stressed and reiterated that both the Secretary‑General and the Special Envoy will now continue their contacts and efforts to reach people who can help move the situation forward in a positive manner.
Dujarric referred to about 2,300 International and National UN staff in Myanmar which is a pretty large country presence and has been involved in all sorts of programmes from peace consolidation to health to COVID to human rights. However, following the military coup, the activities were not continuing as normal and the spokesman said those on the ground were trying to re‑establish some of the programmes, see what is possible, in trying to assess the situation.
“We remain very concerned about the situation of all people in Myanmar, the human rights situation, the lack of freedom of expression, the shutting down of some Internet platforms. Access has always been a challenge in different parts of Myanmar, including in Rakhine State, and these latest developments have not helped that in any way,” Dujarric said.
– global bihari bureau