Myanmar's UN ambassador urges G7 to act

Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations is the only one working to topple the leaders of the country he represents. He aims to turn up the pressure on the ruling junta, and cut off their financial resources, and he sees this week's G7 summit in Hiroshima as an opportunity.

Kyaw Moe Tun has been a thorn in the side of Myanmar's military regime ever since it seized power in a February 2021 coup. He was appointed ambassador to the United Nations under the democratically elected administration of Aung San Suu Kyi and remains loyal to the democratic government in exile.

The regime has tried more than once to unseat Kyaw Moe Tun, but the UN committee that oversees his tenure has so far allowed him to remain in the role, which he is now using to call for international support to restore democracy in his country.

"The military has committed serious human rights violations amounting to the crisis, humanity, and war crimes," he says. "It includes massacres, indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombings, wholesale burning of homes, and destroying our schools and hospitals. So many innocent people, including women and children, were brutally killed by the military."

The pro-democracy National Unity Government, or NUG, says at least 168 people, including children aged 5 or younger, were killed in the Sagaing region on a single day in April. It is believed to be the deadliest attack since the junta seized power.

Human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says that more than 3,500 people have been killed by the military since the coup, and the UN's refugee agency UNHCR says nearly 1.5 million people have been internally displaced.

Kyaw Moe Tun gave a three-finger salute at a UN General Assembly meeting in February 2021, a gesture that shows resistance against the military.

Kyaw Moe Tun is calling for an end to the violence and a return to democracy. He says it is essential to cut the military off from its revenue.

"G7 leaders should urge the international community, in particular the countries in the region to stand firm with the people of Myanmar to stop financial flow to the military," he says.

The Japanese government decided in 2021 that it would provide no new Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Myanmar. The Foreign Ministry says Japan provided 1.4 billion dollars worth in fiscal year 2019. But the government also said it would follow through on aid projects already promised.

The ambassador has rejected the junta's demands that he step down. In August 2021, investigators in the US uncovered a plot to assassinate him. But he continues to urge the international community to cut the military's funding sources and sees the upcoming G7 summit in Hiroshima as a chance for those nations to use their collective leverage.

"G7 leaders should urge the international community, in particular the countries in the region to stand firm with the people of Myanmar to stop financial flow to the military. I just want to urge Japan not to normalize engagement with the military junta when the military is killing its own people and committing area attacks on civilians," he says.

Kyaw Moe Tun says he hopes the situation in Myanmar is one of the main items on the agenda at the summit.

"There are so many pressing issues in the world, from climate change to conflicts, including the Russian aggression against Ukraine," he says. "No doubt G7 leaders will pay attention to all these pressing issues. Myanmar is also one of the pressing issues that world leaders should pay attention to. It already has implications for regional peace and stability."

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