Burma’s United Nations ambassador warned diplomats at a meeting of the General Assembly Friday that his country’s military had become, “an existential threat,” and called upon the world community to take action against the military who led the coup on Feb. 1.
The Burmese ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, said that the UN, the United Nations Security Council and the international community should “use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar [Burmese] military and to provide safety and security for the people of Myanmar.”
His speech took place following a briefing to the General Assembly by the secretary general’s special envoy to Burma, Christine Schraner Burgener, who said it was time to sound “the alarm.”
In her speech, Burgener said, “If there is any escalation in terms of military brutality – and sadly as we have seen this before in Myanmar [Burma] – against people exercising their basic rights, let us act swiftly and collectively. We can no longer afford profound divisions.”
Making her first speech as the United States ambassador to the world body, Linda Thomas-Greenfield applauded the Burmese ambassador’s remarks, calling them “courageous and brave.” She said the U.S. stood in solidarity with the protesters and reiterated the U.S. position: “The United States continues to strongly condemn the military coup in Myanmar. And we condemn the security forces’ brutal killing of unarmed people.”
In perhaps a hint to China, who has stood by its neighbor and blocked several Security Council actions against it, Thomas-Greenfield told the General Assembly, “We ask that together, the whole world speaks with one voice and condemn the military’s detention of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and hundreds of other civilian officials and human rights defenders.”
She continued, “We urge every member state here today to use any channel available to tell the Myanmar military that violence against the people of Myanmar will not be tolerated. Together, we all show the people of Myanmar that the world is watching. We hear them, and we stand with them.”
China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, echoed China’s policies with its neighbor and said what happened in the country was in essence an issue of internal affairs. He noted that “the voice of, and measures taken by the international community should help Myanmar [Burma] parties bridge their differences and solve problems.”
He warned that the international community should “avoid intensifying tensions and further complicating the situation.”
Craig Singleton, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), China program, told Fox News that the Biden administration faces a difficult balancing act on Burma.
“Any successful response to the crisis must take into account the United States’ lack of economic and political leverage, as well as the fact that Burma’s military leaders are unlikely to respond favorably to any language which borders on ultimatum.” He said that while today’s U.N. meeting was positive, most of Burma’s neighbors are not supporting sanctions and are against outside interference in its internal affairs.
Singleton warned that China is “carefully pursuing its own great-power strategy, one that plays to its relative strengths and long-term objectives, including its efforts to reduce U.S. influence throughout Southeast Asia.”
He told Fox News that the Biden administration needs to “re-assess its strategy and promote a constructive path towards diplomatic dialogue, in effect allowing both sides to air their grievances. … Such a diplomatic framework would also provide the new administration with an opportunity to better synchronize its messaging with other Indo-Pacific allies, many of which are hesitant to embrace sanctions or any other steps which could push Burma closer to Beijing.”
Last weekend one protester told Fox News that, the strong words coming from foreign governments were not enough. “We would like the U.S. to come and intervene,” an American-Burmese woman said. “Instead of words, sending letters saying they condemn the coup, they must act and demand Aung San Kyi’s release.”
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Laura Taglianetti contributed to this report