Myanmar: UN-SC Takes Strong Position

Cross-Posted from Daily Kos

The UN Security Council met Friday in New York to receive a report from Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Speaking in diplomatic but clear terms, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Gambari denounced the situation in Myanmar warning that sanctions could follow if Myanmar failed to respond quickly and appropriately, urging the Junta to meet with political opposition. Speaking in guardedly optimistic terms, Gambari indicated the Junta was prepared to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ban Ki-moon

Contrary to expectations, the language of their remarks was unambiguously critical of Myanmar, reflecting a rapidly developing consensus of international condemnation.

Addressing the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon stated:

“The use of force against peaceful demonstrators is abhorrent and unacceptable” as he called for the Junta to “take bold actions” toward democratization and respect for human rights.

“A window of opportunity has opened, and it is vital that the government of Myanmar responds positively” he continued, urging military leader General Than Shwe to meet Suu Kyi “as soon as possible.”

(Reuters 1)

Ban also praised the efforts of ASEAN in responding to the crisis, reflecting his discussion with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before the meeting (Agence France-Presse). ASEAN, normally reluctant to stake controversial positions between it’s members, was quick to condemn the violent suppression of protests, with Singapore and Indonesia taking clearly critical positions.

Ibrahim Gambari

Speaking after Ban’s address Gambari stated:

“Of great concern to the United Nations and the international community are the continuing and disturbing reports of abuses being committed by security and non-uniformed elements, particularly at night during curfew, including raids on private homes, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and disappearances.”

Gambari also remarked that unconfirmed reports suggest the number of casualties was “much higher than the dozen people reported killed by the government” and the Myanmar Government must recognize it’s actions “can have serious international repercussions” as he called for the release of all political prisoners.

Gambari indicated he was “cautiously encouraged” by the junta’s willingness to meet with Suu Kyi, provided certain conditions were met “This is a potentially welcome development which calls for maximum flexibility on all sides. The sooner such a meeting can take place, the better, as it is a first and necessary step to overcome the high level of mistrust between them.”

(Reuters 2)  (Intl Herald 1)  (Intl Herald 2)

However, in a separate statement, a representative of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejected the preconditions demanded by the Junta.  (Reuters 3)  (Reuters 4)

However, in a live CNN interview following the meeting, Gambari sounded a more optimistic note, elaborating in veiled terms the content of his discussions with the Junta and Suu Kyi indicating his belief Suu Kyi wanted to take the opportunity for substantial discussions with the Junta to resolve the crisis and find a path forward for the country, remarking “the status quo is unacceptable.” He also briefly commented on the positive role ASEAN was taking to promote discussion.

US Rejects Junta Pre-conditions

Following Gambari’s UN address, Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, stated:

“The United States urges the UN Security Council to send Mr. Gambari, at the earliest possible time, back to Burma.”

“Reports from Burma that the Internet has been cut off and that innocent Burmese monks and others have been detained, continue to be causes for serious concern and we urge the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council to take these matters seriously and to act.”

Separtely, White House spolksman Tony Fratto stated:

“We would hope that the leaders in Burma, the military junta, would not put conditions on a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.”

“What you saw from the monks who were protesting, their very limited call was for dialogue, and that dialogue should be without conditions. We want to see a transformation towards more freedom and democracy in Burma.”

(Reuters 5)

Myanmar’s Response

In a tersely worded reply, Myanmar UN Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe urged the Security Council to take no action that would harm the “good offices” role of the world body to defuse the situation in Myanmar and indicating Myanmar would cooperate fully with UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari:

“No Security Council action is warranted with regard to the situation in Myanmar.

He said Myanmar had recently faced a situation that amounted to a “daunting challenge” but that it had now returned to “normalcy” and that many of those detained had now been released.

“To date … a total of 2,095 people, including 722 monks, have been released,” he said. “More releases will follow.”

(Reuters 6)

CNN is reporting Myanmar has invited a US representative to meet with the Junta, no response has been made.

Gambari’s Summary Report to the Security Council

The report (HTML)(PDF) issued before the meeting, summarizes the situation and options to be considered by the UN-SC, including concerns raised by members engaged in negotiations.

I suggest you read the complete text, the HTML version also contains links to referenced documents of substantial importance.

Other Reports

Through unconfirmed sources I have heard Buddhist monks have now fled into China in addition to Thailand as has been widely reported. I will attempt to confirm this through reliable, quotable sources.

Numerous sources report on the continued suppression of dissent by raids on monasteries and private homes after the 10PM curfew when no witnesses are present. (Gardian)

I am compiling a list of blogs with relevant information, a partial list can be found in this Dkos string.

I would like to thank everyone who has posted Essays and will try my best to credit each I’m aware of.

And of course, I thank everyone who has hit Free Burma to register protest, if you have not already done so, please do now.

Over 500,000 persons worldwide have supported this effort, won’t you please help?

8 comments

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    • koNko on October 6, 2007 at 5:30 am
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    Well, he’s trying. It’s not easy to convince murderous tigers to change their strips.

    If you haven’t already, please hit Free Burma to register your protest.

    If she can speak-out …

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    why not you?

  1. on the Junta will be quickly coordinated through the Security Council and intensified over the next few days. 

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