Myanmar’s junta blocked from attending global climate summit

The decision marks the second time the military’s representation has been rejected by the UN.
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Myanmar’s junta blocked from attending global climate summit British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (3L), UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (3R) attend a meeting with Co-Facilitators during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Nov. 10, 2021.

Myanmar’s military regime has been snubbed once again on the international stage, this time by the organizers of the United Nations climate change conference, who turned its five-person delegation away at the door to the summit in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

The move to bar the delegation comes just a month after reports that the U.N. credentialing committee delayed acceptance of the junta’s appointed envoy to the General Assembly as part of a U.S.-China-brokered deal that would have the representative of Myanmar’s deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) government “take a low profile” until a formal decision is made later this year.

Sources close to the military government recently told RFA’s Myanmar Service that Hla Maung Thein, the junta’s director general of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, had planned to send a five-member delegation to the Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 conference, known as COP26. The group was to be led by Ambassador Tun Aung Kyaw of the Myanmar Embassy in London.

However, Myanmar pro-democracy groups learned of the plan and protested the junta’s inclusion, which they said would allow it to raise its international profile despite its violent repression at home of opponents to its Feb. 1 coup.

Kyaw Swa Tun, a third secretary at the Myanmar Embassy in Washington, told RFA that the delegation had been denied entry to the 192-member nation conference when it arrived in Glasgow.

“The military council was trying to get [global] recognition. A delegation of five people, led by the junta’s Ambassador Tun Aung Kyaw and Councilor Chit Win, traveled to Glasgow,” he said.

“At the U.N. there is a group that accepts nominations and there’s another group that deals with credentials. At the time of the nomination of the five, travel expenses were paid by the U.N. nominating group. However, the credentials group rejected their nomination and so they were not allowed to attend the meeting and had to return home from Scotland.”

It was not immediately clear which group or individual objected to the junta’s participation at the COP26. Junta representatives were even barred from taking part in the conference virtually.

RFA learned that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had paid for the travel expenses of at least three of the five delegates when the junta was initially invited.

RFA was unable to contact the UNFCCC for comment on the decision to block the junta from attending the conference.

Nine months after the Feb. 1 coup, the junta’s security forces have killed 1,252 civilians and arrested at least 7,091, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Many of the deaths and arrests have occurred during crackdowns on anti-junta protests.

The junta claims it unseated the NLD government because the party had engineered its victory in the 2020 election through widespread voter fraud, though international observers rated the vote legitimate. Military leaders have yet to present evidence backing up their allegation, and protests against the regime continue.

‘A victory for the people of Myanmar’

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) said it had also attempted to send a delegation to COP26 but was rejected.

“As we all know, our government was formed on behalf of the people, so I think U.N. officials should recognize our government’s representation and allow us to attend such major conferences,” NUG Deputy Foreign Minister Moe Zaw Oo told RFA.

“Otherwise, our country will miss a lot of opportunities because of non-participation at meetings on important issues,” he added, saying that the NUG would continue its efforts to represent Myanmar on the world stage.

Moe Zaw Oo said the decision to ban the junta from attending the climate conference was “a victory for the people of Myanmar.”

“They are trying to attend U.N. meetings, but U.N. officials and host countries are also working to prevent them from being represented,” he said.

“It will teach them the lesson that an organization that does not represent the people will not be allowed to attend such meetings.”

Arkar Myo Htet, an NLD lawmaker, said refusing the junta representation at COP26 was a blow to the military regime.

“It is a blessing for our uprising and our people that the junta was not allowed to attend such an important conference,” he said.

“This shows that the global community stands with our people. … The military is slowly failing in the international arena.”

Attempts by RFA to reach junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun for comment regarding the delegation were not successful.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.


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