Conflicts & War

UN special envoy to travel to Myanmar

Bangkok, Aug 16 (EFE).- The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar is scheduled to begin an official visit to the country Tuesday.

This will be Noeleen Heyzer’s first official trip to Myanmar since her appointment in October last year.

Her visit occurs a day after a Myanmar military court sentenced deposed leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to another six years in prison Monday for corruption cases attributed to her.

Suu Kyi was arrested during a military coup on Feb. 1, 2021.

In a brief statement on Monday, the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Heyzer was traveling to Myanmar but did not divulge any details about the visit’s duration or agenda.

The statement said that the UN official “will focus on addressing the deteriorating situation and immediate concerns as well as other priority areas of her mandate.”

Her visit “follows extensive consultations with actors from across the political spectrum, civil society as well as communities affected by the ongoing conflict,” it added.

In recent months, Heyzer has called for starting a dialog process between different Myanmar groups and an end to the violence that has been on the rise since the coup.

Myanmar has been devastated by the economic, social and political consequences of the coup, which include a worsening of the civil conflict between the military and ethnic guerrillas and new civilian militias formed after the coup.

In addition to the obscure trials against Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy leaders, the junta in July executed four activists, convicted in January of terrorism as a result of their activities against the coup, sparking widespread condemnation.

The military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing has been isolated by the international community, except for diplomatic and military relations with China, Russia and India.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a part, urged the military junta in July to begin implementing de-escalation measures by November, before member countries decide on new measures that could include its expulsion from the regional bloc.

For now, the leaders of the junta have been excluded from the most important meetings and summits of ASEAN, which in April 2021, reached an agreement with Min Aung Hlaing on several points of consensus, including an end of violence against civilians and the start of a political dialog.

The military seized power under the pretext of alleged electoral fraud in the November 2020 elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won with an overwhelming majority with the endorsement of international observers.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union have called for the release of Suu Kyi, who is serving 17 years in prison for various convictions on charges that she denies, as well as other political prisoners.

At least 2,189 people have died as a result of violent repression by security forces and more than 12,000 arrested, according to data collected by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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