UN envoy says won’t visit Myanmar if she can’t see Suu Kyi

Sep 4, 2022, 7:36 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2022, 8:26 am

FILE - In this image provided by the Military True News Information Team, United Nations Special En...

FILE - In this image provided by the Military True News Information Team, United Nations Special Envoy Noeleen Heyzer, left, and State Administration Council Chairman Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing shake hands Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Heyzer declared Monday, Sept. 6, 2022, that she will not visit the Southeast Asia nation again unless its military government allows her to meet with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (Myanmar True News Information Team via AP, File)

(Myanmar True News Information Team via AP, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — The United Nations special envoy on Myanmar declared Monday that she will not visit the Southeast Asia nation again unless its military government allows her to meet with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The envoy, Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, also warned of the “tragic reality that large numbers of people will be forced to flee” Myanmar in search of safety, and that the international community must help provide them with humanitarian assistance.

Myanmar’s military seized power in February last year from Suu Kyi’s elected government, plunging the country into what some U.N. experts have described as civil war.

Suu Kyi and top figures in her Cabinet and party were arrested, and have since been tried on a variety of charges that critics say were fabricated to keep them out of politics.

Speaking at a seminar in Singapore organized by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a Southeast Asian studies research center, Heyzer described her assignment as part of “broader efforts by the United Nations to urgently support an effective and peaceful Myanmar-led political pathway to return to civilian rule based on the will and the needs of the people.”

Heyzer has been accused by both the military government and its opponents of engaging too much with the other side. She emphasized her “mandate as an impartial actor to engage with all stakeholders in Myanmar, the region and globally, consistent with the principles of the United Nations.”

Suu Kyi, a key figure in Myanmar’s politics for four decades, even during 15 previous years of house arrest, has not been seen in public since the army takeover. The only people with access to her have been her captors, one or two personal assistants and her lawyers. She was transferred last month from house arrest at a secret location believed to have been a military base in the capital, Naypyitaw, to a specially built facility at the city’s prison.

So far Suu Kyi, 77, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, including a three-year term with hard labor imposed last week for alleged election fraud. The army attempted to justify its takeover by claiming that a November 2020 general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, was rife with irregularities, an allegation strongly challenged by election observers.

Last month, Heyzer made her first visit to Myanmar since her appointment in October 2021, and in a meeting with the country’s leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, asked that Suu Kyi be allowed to return to her own home and that Heyzer be allowed to visit her.

The government has repeatedly said that it cannot allow Suu Kyi any visitors while legal proceedings are underway against her.

“In response to my request to meet State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the senior general indicated the possibility of a meeting eventually. I am now very concerned about her health and well-being, and condemn her sentencing to hard labor,” Heyzer said Monday.

“If I ever visit Myanmar again, it will only be if I can meet with Daw Aung San Suu,” she said. “Daw” is an honorific used for older women.

Heyzer said she will focus on the possibility of providing “unhindered and safe delivery of humanitarian aid through all available channels” in a cooperative effort between the U.N. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member.

The U.N. estimates that 14.4 million people, one-fourth of Myanmar’s population — many of them displaced from their homes by warfare — require humanitarian assistance.

ASEAN is also seeking to play a peacemaking role in Myanmar, though the military government has given minimal cooperation in implementing a five-point consensus ASEAN reached on Myanmar last year that calls for dialogue among all concerned parties, provision of humanitarian assistance and an immediate cessation of violence, among other things.

Critics say the military government blocks assistance to areas where it is engaged in armed combat with ethnic minority groups which have been battling for decades for greater autonomy, and pro-democracy forces opposed to military rule which have made alliances with some of those groups.

Heyzer said current realities, including the military government’s lack of control over many frontier areas, mean that ways must be found to provide assistance directly to those living there. The military government says it is capable of providing necessary assistance and denies blocking aid.

“I have repeatedly called for the immediate cessation of aerial bombings and a humanitarian pause in targeted areas to allow for effective and safe access, and the urgent delivery of assistance through all existing channels to address the multiple humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities,” Heyzer said.

Monday’s talk by Heyzer was held under rules prohibiting the attribution of comments to any specific speaker, though her office specified that some of her remarks could be quoted directly.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

1 day ago

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, ...

Associated Press

US, Europe working on voluntary AI code of conduct as calls grow for regulation

The United States and Europe are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for artificial intelligence as the developing technology triggers warnings

1 day ago

FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

2 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

2 days ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

3 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

UN envoy says won’t visit Myanmar if she can’t see Suu Kyi