UN calls for cessation of arms in Myanmar
NEW YORK, June 18 (Reuters) – The United Nations General Assembly on Friday called for an end to arms flows to Myanmar and urged the military to respect November election results and release detainees politicians, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution with the support of 119 countries several months after the military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1. Belarus called for the text to be put to a vote and was the only country to oppose it, while 36 abstained, including China and Russia.
“The risk of full-scale civil war is real,” UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told the General Assembly after the vote. “Time is running out. The opportunity to reverse the military takeover is shrinking.”
Some countries that abstained said the crisis was an internal problem for Myanmar, others did not think the resolution would help, while some states complained that it did not adequately respond to the plight of Rohingya Muslims about four years after a military crackdown forced nearly a million to flee Burma.
European Union Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog said the UN resolution sends a powerful message: “It delegitimizes the military junta, condemns its abuses and violence against its own people and demonstrates its isolation in the eyes of the world.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the General Assembly to act on Friday, telling reporters: “We cannot live in a world where military coups are becoming the norm. This is totally unacceptable. “.
The military cited the government’s refusal to tackle what it called fraud in the November election as the reason for the coup. International observers said the ballot was fair.
A first draft UN resolution included stronger language calling for an arms embargo against Myanmar. Nine Southeast Asian countries wanted the language removed, according to a proposal seen by Reuters last month.
The compromise text “calls on all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”.
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but have political weight. Unlike the 15 members of the Security Council, no country has a veto power in the General Assembly.
Junta forces have killed more than 860 people since the coup, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. The junta says the number is much lower.
The UN resolution calls on the Burmese military to “immediately stop all violence against peaceful protesters” and end restrictions on the internet and social media.
The General Assembly also called on Myanmar to swiftly implement a five-point consensus that the junta forged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to end the violence and start a dialogue with its opponents.
ASEAN led the main diplomatic effort to find a solution to the crisis, but was divided on the UN’s action on Friday.
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar Ambassador to the UN Kyaw Moe Tun, who speaks on behalf of the country’s elected civilian government, voted yes, while Brunei, Cambodia , Laos and Thailand abstained.
Kyaw Moe Tun said he was disappointed that it took so long for the General Assembly to pass a “watered down” resolution, adding: “It is extremely important that no country supports the military.”
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Howard Goller
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