‘We must continue to amplify the voices of our people’: Myanmar UN Rep

The shadow government envoy discusses expectations for the 77th General Assembly.
By Soe San Aung for RFA Burmese
‘We must continue to amplify the voices of our people’: Myanmar UN Rep Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar permanent representative to the UN, makes the three-finger salute of opposition to the junta during an interview with RFA.

In December 2021, the United Nations Credentials Committee announced that it would indefinitely postpone a decision on who will represent Myanmar at the world body decision, allowing Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun of the country’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) to retain his seat at the world body. The move was widely viewed as a serious blow to the legitimacy of Myanmar’s junta, which seized control of the country in a coup 10 months earlier.

In the lead-up to the high-level General Debate of the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly, which kicked off on Tuesday in New York City, RFA Burmese reporter Soe San Aung spoke with the NUG envoy about his expectations for the global gathering.

The following are excerpts from an interview in Burmese.

RFA: Can you talk about the prospects of the NUG being officially accepted [as Myanmar’s government] by the U.N. General Assembly?

Kyaw Moe Tun: Let’s take a look first at last year‘s situation. The [junta] submitted a nomination proposal to the U.N. Credentials Committee and the NUG did the same last year. The Credentials Committee, after serious discussions, decided to defer the issue for a later date. And now, both sides have done the same again, sending their proposals. We haven’t heard anything yet about the Credentials Committee holding any discussions on the issue. Last year, I had to continue my tenure because the Committee deferred the Myanmar credentials issue. It’s a bit too early to predict what will come.

RFA: What are your hopes for this year?

Kyaw Moe Tun: This seat is critical for our country because from here, from this seat, we can convey the voices and wishes of our people to the international community in various ways, as you have seen in the past year. We have always said this credentials issue is one of the steps of our main objectives, that is, to regain democracy for our country, to bring down the brutal military dictatorship and to establish a democratic union. Winning this credentials issue will bring us a step closer to our goals. The more the international community can hear the voices of our people, the more appreciation, the more recognition, we will get from the international community. The words at the beginning of the U.N. Charter - “We, the people of the United Nations,” demonstrate that the desires and wishes of the people are one of the cornerstones of the U.N. And so, the more the international community can hear the voices of our people, the closer we will get to achieving our goals.

RFA: Will Myanmar have a chance to address the heads of state of the U.N. member countries at the General Assembly?

Kyaw Moe Tun: On the agenda for Sept. 26, they have included Myanmar with the words “CD” in parentheses, meaning that the head of delegation, though he is not of ministerial level, will address the Assembly. It was like that last year, too, but we were not able to give a policy speech during the general debate at that time. We will have to wait and see what will happen this year.

RFA: How much do you think the United Nations can help solve our country’s political crisis diplomatically?

Kyaw Moe Tun: We have made many demands but we haven’t seen the results we had hoped for. We have asked the U.N. to apply the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle [to end mass atrocity crimes] since the spring of 2021. We pleaded with the member countries to help our people, who are powerless against the brutal military junta’s use of jet fighters and helicopter gunships to bomb and attack civilians and burn their villages. We made calls on the U.N. to set up no-fly zones, but our demands were not met. There are some who question why we should ask for something we cannot get. But it is our duty to make these requests, and whether we get what we want or not depends on [the U.N.]. Whatever happens, we must continue our efforts to amplify the voices of our people for the international community.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane.


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