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Myanmar’s UN envoy fired for denouncing junta

NEW YORK: Myanmar’s junta fired its United Nations ambassador for breaking ranks to denounce the military’s ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as police stepped up a crackdown on protesters across the country.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations on Friday broke ranks and made an emotional appeal to the international community to use “any means necessary” to reverse a coup that ousted the nation’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kyaw Moe Tun also pleaded with his “brothers and sisters” in Burmese to keep fighting. “This revolution must win,” he said, flashing the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of resistance against the junta.

Myanmar’s state-run TV announced on Saturday evening that Kyaw Moe Tun was no longer Myanmar’s UN ambassador and had been fired for betraying the country.

However, the United Nations does not officially recognise the junta as Myanmar’s new government as it has received no official notification of any change, and so Kyaw Moe Tun remains Myanmar’s UN ambassador for now.

“We have not received any communication concerning changes to the representation of Myanmar at the United Nations in New York,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, warned the UN General Assembly that no country should recognise or legitimise the Myanmar junta.

If the Myanmar junta, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, tries to seek international recognition by installing a new UN envoy, it could set off a fight at the world body that could culminate with a vote at the General Assembly.

Kyaw Moe Tun told the United Nations on Friday that he was speaking for Suu Kyi’s government and appealed for help to overturn “the illegal and unconstitutional military coup.” Such an address at odds with those in power in a country is rare.

Elected lawmakers ousted in the coup have formed a committee and Kyaw Moe Tun said that is the “legitimate and duly elected government of Myanmar and must be recognized by the international community as such.”

Guterres has pledged to mobilize international pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.” The Security Council has voiced concern over the state of emergency, but stopped short of condemning the coup due to opposition by Russia and China.

The news of the ambassador’s removal follows a day of crackdowns and mass arrests by Myanmar’s security forces as the country enters its fourth week of daily protests.

Chaos unfolded across commercial hub Yangon, with police closing in early on peaceful demonstrators and deploying rubber bullets to disperse them. Protesters scattered into residential streets and started building makeshift barricades out of stacked tables and trash cans to stop the police. Many wore hard hats and gas masks, wielding homemade shields for protection.

Since the coup, at least five people have been killed — four of them from injuries sustained at anti-coup demonstrations that saw security forces open fire on protesters.