UN expert: Myanmar junta will seek legitimacy in `sham’ vote

Jan 31, 2023, 12:54 AM | Updated: 3:04 pm
FILE - An anti-coup protester displays defaced images of Commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung H...

FILE - An anti-coup protester displays defaced images of Commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Mandalay, Myanmar, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. As Feb. 1, 2023, marks two years after Myanmar’s generals ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, thousands of people have died in civil conflict and many more have been forced from their homes in a dire humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The independent U.N. special investigator on Myanmar warned Tuesday that the country’s military rulers plan to seek legitimacy by orchestrating a “sham” election this year and urged all countries to reject the illegal and “farcical” vote.

Tom Andrews also called for nations that support human rights and democracy to recognize the underground umbrella organization for opponents of military rule as the legitimate representative of Myanmar’s people.

He said in a report to the Human Rights Council released on the eve of the second anniversary of the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government that according to the constitution drafted by the military in 2008, its coup on Feb. 1, 2021, “was illegal and its claim as Myanmar’s government is illegitimate.”

U.N. member nations, Andrews said, “have an important responsibility and role to play in determining whether Myanmar’s military junta will succeed in achieving its goal of being accepted as legitimate and gaining control of a nation in revolt.”

“You cannot have a free and fair election when the opposition is arrested, detained, tortured, and executed,” journalists are prohibited from doing their job, and it is a crime to criticize the military, Andrews said at a news conference.

He noted that most of the international community has refused to accept the military’s claim to be the legitimate government of Myanmar. A small minority, including China, Russia, India, Belaurs, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka, have taken actions tantamount to recognition such as presenting diplomatic credentials to the junta leaders and strengthening military and economic relations, he said.

Andrews called for recognition and support for the National Unity Government, the main underground group coordinating resistance to the military. It was established by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the military seized power.

Andrews said he is encouraged by the increasing engagement of the United States, the European Union and Canada with the National Unity Government.

Presenting the report at a news conference, Andrews called Myanmar’s situation “the forgotten war” and accused the international community of failing to address the crisis along with “the junta’s systematic crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Since the military came to power, he said, at least 2,900 people and probably many more have died, 17,500 people are political prisoners and at least 38,000 homes, clinics and schools have been burned to the ground. In addition, 1.1 million people have been displaced, more than 4 million children don’t have access to formal education, and 17.6 million people are expected to need humanitarian aid in 2023, up from 1 million before the coup, he said.

Andrews, a former U.S. congressman who has appointments at the Yale Law School and Harvard’s Asia Center, said a new coordinated international response to the crisis in Myanmar is imperative.

The army’s ouster of Suu Kyi’s elected government was met with widespread public protests that security forces suppressed with lethal force. The futility of nonviolent protest drove opponents to armed resistance, which some U.N. experts and others have characterized as civil war.

According to Andrews’ report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, in the 22 months from the coup through Dec. 31, there were approximately 10,000 attacks or armed clashes between the military and anti-junta, ethnic resistance forces, and other groups.

Andrews urged all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to distance themselves from the junta, condemn its actions, and support enforcement of international sanctions. While Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei have reduced diplomatic engagement and rejected its claims of legitimacy, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have engaged with the military, though Vietnam and Cambodia have said this doesn’t equate to recognition.

Myanmar is a member of ASEAN and its military leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, agreed to the organization’s five-point plan in April 2021 calling for an immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all concerned parties mediated by an ASEAN special envoy, but the junta has made little effort to implement it.

Andrews said the military’s hold on the country “is weakening,” saying that his investigation has found that international sanctions have made it difficult for the junta to move and access funds to keep its operations going. But “the problem is that the sanctions are not coordinated,” he said.

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


File - People shop at an Apple store in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jerse...
Associated Press

A key inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slowed in February

The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge slowed sharply last month, an encouraging sign in the Fed's yearlong effort to cool price pressures through steadily higher interest rates.
2 days ago
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...
Associated Press

Musk, scientists call for halt to AI race sparked by ChatGPT

Are tech companies moving too fast in rolling out powerful artificial intelligence technology that could one day outsmart humans?
3 days ago
Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
4 days ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
4 days ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
5 days ago
capital gains tax budgets...
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
UN expert: Myanmar junta will seek legitimacy in `sham’ vote