UN: Myanmar leader open to UN visit to Suu Kyi but not now
Myanmar has been wracked by violent unrest since the military toppled the elected government of Suu Kyi in February last year.
The military takeover prevented Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party from starting a second term, and Suu Kyi was prosecuted in a series of criminal cases widely seen as politically motivated by the army in power. She is being held in Naypyitaw prison and the government has refused to allow her to meet foreigners.
During the UN envoy’s first mission to the strife-torn country, Heyzer called on General Hlaing to urgently end all violence, support a political path back to civilian rule and democracy and allow Suu Kyi to return home and meet her.
She also reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ deep concern about the humanitarian, security, economic and political crisis in Myanmar and his call for the release of all political prisoners. And she urged Hlaing to impose a moratorium on future executions, following the recent executions of four political activists which drew global condemnation.
Responding to a question about the results of Heyzer’s visit, Haq said “a key outcome” was a commitment from the ruling State Board of Directors, which the general heads, to “continue the conversation and openness” to its offers of urgent and necessary humanitarian aid. protection of civilians.
Haq said a follow-up meeting was held with the chairman of the council’s National Solidarity and Peace Negotiations Committee to explore Heyzer’s proposal “for an inclusive forum for humanitarian engagement.” At the meeting, he said, “both sides agreed to work closely together on a pilot project under the special envoy’s convening role, and to explore a humanitarian pause and delivery inclusive of aid in active conflict zones”.
Regarding Heyzer’s call for the release of all children, Haq said, “Assurances have been given that no child under the age of 12 will be detained in prisons or other facilities. He added that Heyzer had also been promised that “lighter judgment would be considered for 16 and 17 year olds”.
Haq did not mention other issues raised by Heyzer during his two-day visit, saying there was little or no progress on his calls for an urgent end to all violence, including an end to the aerial bombings and the burning of homes and civilian infrastructure, begin taking steps to restore civilian rule, release all political prisoners and put an end to executions.
The military takeover was met with massive public opposition, which has since escalated into armed resistance that some UN experts, including Heyzer’s predecessor Christine Schraner Burgener, called a civil war. Critics of the military have accused it of enforcing human rights on a grand scale.
Much of the international community, including Myanmar’s fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have expressed frustration with the hard line the generals have taken in resisting the reform. Myanmar’s military leaders agreed on an ASEAN five-point plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability in the country, including an immediate end to violence and dialogue between all parties. But the army made little effort to implement the plan.
In a statement as she left Myanmar, Heyzer said any progress in Myanmar depended on an end to violence and visible and meaningful improvements in people’s lives.