UN envoy travels to strife-torn Myanmar for the first time
Tue, Aug 16, 2022 10:40 AM
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar traveled to the Southeast Asian nation on Monday for the first time since she was appointed to the post last October.
The trip by Noeleen Heyzer followed the U.N. Security Council’s latest call for an immediate end to all forms of violence and for unimpeded humanitarian access in the strife-torn country.
Heyzer “will focus on addressing the deteriorating situation and immediate concerns as well as other priority areas of her mandate,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
He gave no details on whether Heyzer will meet with Myanmar’s military rulers or the country’s imprisoned former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a longtime U.N. demand. Suu Kyi was convicted earlier Monday on more corruption charges, adding six years to her earlier 11-year prison sentence.
Heyzer’s visit “follows her extensive consultations with actors from across the political spectrum, civil society as well as communities affected by the ongoing conflict,” Dujarric said.
Earlier this month, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, who is the special envoy to Myanmar for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said efforts by Myanmar’s neighbors to help restore peace and normalcy there were hindered by the country’s recent execution of four political activists.
He warned that further executions would force the regional group to reconsider how it engages with fellow member Myanmar.
In February 2021, Myanmar’s army ousted Suu Kyi’s elected government and then violently cracked down on widespread protests against its actions. After security forces unleashed lethal force on peaceful demonstrators, some opponents of military rule took up arms.
Myanmar’s military rulers agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability to the country, which includes an immediate halt to violence and a dialogue among all parties. But the country’s military has made little effort to implement the plan, and Myanmar has slipped into a situation that some U.N. experts have characterized as a civil war.
Heyzer, a women’s rights activist from Singapore, headed UNIFEM, a U.N. development organization that focuses on promoting women’s economic advancement, in 1994-2007. She was the first woman to serve as executive secretary of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in 2007-2014.