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GA: Informal Meeting on Myanmar

Nordic Joint Statement delivered by Sweden's Ambassador Anna Karin Eneström at the UN General Assembly informal meeting on the situation in Myanmar, 26 February 2021.

President,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and my own country, Sweden.

We thank Special Envoy Burgener for her important briefing and welcome the opportunity for the General Assembly to hear about the deeply concerning situation and events that are unfolding in Myanmar.

We also welcome the unanimous press statement of the Security Council on 4 February.

We strongly condemn the military coup and call for the immediate and unconditional release of President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders, as well as journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful protestors that have been  arbitrarily detained, charged and arrested since February 1.

Last year’s general election gave a strong and clear mandate to the National League for Democracy, reflecting the will of the majority to continue the path of democratic reform. The military leadership must now respect this unequivocal wish of the people of Myanmar.

We echo the Secretary-General’s call on the Myanmar military to immediately stop the repression of civilians, respect human rights and abide by the will of the people. The undemocratic military take-over of government is unacceptable, and we are deeply concerned with the human rights situation in Myanmar. It is imperative that those responsible for the most serious international crimes and violations of international law in Myanmar are held accountable and, in this vein, we reiterate our support for the mandate of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

We strongly urge the Commander in Chief and the military to refrain from more violence. They must fully respect human rights in accordance with international law, uphold democratic norms and freedoms, and fulfill the state’s obligation to protect lives. We urge the military to end restrictions and shutdown of internet and other telecom services.

We condemn the use of deadly force by the military, especially against young people protesting peacefully in the streets of cities and townships all over Myanmar. Images from all over Myanmar show how grassroots actors, particularly women, continue to step up to demand human rights and peace, despite the increased hardship and risks of violence. Youth are also notably at the forefront. The international community must listen to and support the voices that fight for democracy and demand that they are heard.

The military coup is placing the peace process with the ethnic armed organizations at risk. Recently the ten ethnic groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement issued a powerful joint statement condemning the coup and called for immediate release of the political prisoners, including the reinstatement of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. As a result of the coup, we are deeply concerned that achievements for national reconciliation and future peace made over the past years will be lost.

We call for the military to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to conflict areas and vulnerable populations, including in Rakhine state, where the humanitarian situation is particularly severe. Furthermore, the authorities in Myanmar have the responsibility to create the conditions on the ground that will make it possible for the Rohingya refugees and other displaced populations to return to Myanmar. We will continue to emphasize the importance of ensuring their safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return, in accordance with international standards.

The Nordic countries continue to work for and support the people of Myanmar on their journey of democratic transition. The illegitimate military takeover has already changed the conditions for the Nordic countries’ development assistance in Myanmar and several large development programs have been put on hold.

We give our full support also to international actors and efforts that aim to encourage and find a way for Myanmar to return to the path of democracy. 

In closing, we want to highlight the importance of a visit by the Special Envoy to Myanmar, and strongly urge the military to extend an invitation for her to visit Myanmar as soon as possible, and to allow the Special Envoy access to consult with all parties, including the Civilian Government, and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. 

We welcome that the Secretary-General continues to make his good offices available to Myanmar. Special Envoy Burgener, please be assured that you have our full support.