China, Russia block UN Security Council condemnation of Myanmar’s coup

A senior UN official on Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar”, as the 15-member body considered a possible statement condemning Monday’s coup.

The UN envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, informed the Council in a private meeting after Myanmar’s army arrested Suu Kyi and others in response to “election fraud”, handed over power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, imposed a one-year state of emergency and promised to hold new choices.

“I strongly condemn the recent steps taken by the military and urge all of you to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar,” Schraner Burgener told the Council, according to her prepared comments.

“Let’s be clear, the latest result of the election was a huge victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD),” she said. “The military’s proposal to hold elections again should be discouraged.”

The Security Council is negotiating a possible statement, prepared by Britain, which would condemn the coup, call on the military to respect the rule of law and human rights and immediately release the illegally detained, diplomats said. Such statements must be agreed by consensus.

“I really hope we will be able to speak with one voice,” British Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward, President-in-Office of the Council for February, told reporters after the meeting.

China, backed by Russia, protected Myanmar from all significant council action following a 2017 military operation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state sent more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, where they are still stranded. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Western states accused the military in Myanmar of ethnic cleansing, which it denied.

A diplomat with China’s UN mandate said after a council meeting on Tuesday that they were “shocked” that reporters had already seen the draft Council statement and added that “this will make the process of seeking consensus even more difficult.”

“We are of the opinion that all Council action should contribute to the political and social stability of Myanmar and its peace and reconciliation, and avoid increasing tensions or further complicating the situation,” the diplomat said.

Russia’s UN mission is seeking instructions from Moscow on the draft declaration, “said UN Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, adding that the situation in Myanmar was” complex and volatile. “

The UN also raised fears on Monday that the coup in Myanmar will exacerbate the situation for some 600,000 Rohingya Muslims still living in the country.

“At this time, we must ensure the protection of the people of Myanmar and their fundamental rights. We must do everything we can to prevent the outbreak of violence,” said Schraner Burgener.