Myanmar UN ambassador supports protestors with three finger salute

Peter Stubley
·3 min read
<p>Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun holds up three fingers at the end of his address</p> (Reuters)

Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun holds up three fingers at the end of his address

(Reuters)

Myanmar's ambassador to the UN demonstrated his support for pro-democracy protesters by making a three-finger salute as he called on the international community to take the "strongest possible action" against the military regime.

Kyaw Moe Tun urged all countries at the General Assembly to condemn the coup which saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials detained under house arrest on 1 February.

He said they should refuse to recognise the military regime and push its leaders to respect the free and fair elections won by Ms Suu Kyi's NLD party in November.

"Now is not the time for the international community to tolerate the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar military," Mr Tun said.

"It is time for the military to immediately relinquish power and release those detained.

“We will continue to fight for a government which is of the people, by the people, for the people," he vowed.

The ambassador also quoted from Ms Suu Kyi's book Freedom from Fear: "Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day".

He ended his address to the UN with a statement in Burmese and raised three fingers of his right hand in the gesture of rebellion inspired by The Hunger Games movies.

Doctors and pro-democracy demonstrators adopted the salute at protests against the coup in the days after Ms Suu Kyi's arrest and it has quickly gained momentum as thousands of people continue to defy a military crackdown on dissent.

Mr Tun's speech was described as "courageous," "powerful" and "brave" by other speakers at the assembly meeting, including ambassadors representing the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the new US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the United States "stands in solidarity" with the people of Myanmar who are in the streets protesting the coup.

She repeated US president Joe Biden's warning that "we will show the military that their actions have consequences" and called on the military "to immediately relinquish power.

Myanmar's ambassador also read a statement from the Committee Representing Pyidaungu Hluttaw (CRPH), formed by around 80 of Myanmar's democratically elected representatives who are seeking "to uphold their obligations to serve the people who voted for them."

The CRPH asked the UN, the Security Council and the international community "that aspires to build a peaceful and civilized global society to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people of Myanmar."

However both China and Russia said the international community should not intervene. China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun said the international community should respect Myanmar's sovereignty and "avoid intensifying tensions."

"China is engaging right now right now and communicating with relevant parties in Myanmar to facilitate de-escalating the situation and returning to normalcy at an early date," he said.

Russia's diplomat said other nations should not intervene in the "exclusively internal process" of Myanmar and added: "Any attempts to turn the consideration of recent events in the country, in terms of the announcement of state of emergency, into a human rights issue is unjustified and politicised."

Myanmar's military junta says it will rule the country for a year under a state of emergency before holding new polls. It has claimed the results of last November's election were fraudulent after Ms Suu Kyi's party won by a landslide and the military-backed party was reduced to just 26 seats out of the 330 elected to the House of Representatives.

Additional reporting by agencies

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