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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK: Volkan Bozkir, president of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), condemned the military coup in Myanmar and called for “unrestricted humanitarian access to Rakhine state and other parts of the country.”
Rakhine is home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims. “He is deeply concerned that the military coup in Myanmar could further exacerbate the problems of the most vulnerable, including Rohingya Muslims,” said Bozkir’s spokesman Brenden Varma.
Bozkir is looking to convene a briefing by the special envoy to Myanmar for all member states, in line with a UNGA resolution, titled: “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.”
As all flights to the country have been suspended by coup leaders through April, Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener warned of impending humanitarian consequences, and urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to ensure the protection of civilians and human rights.
She regretted that the hope generated by Myanmar’s November elections has been jeopardized, and called attention to a host of other issues that are bound to take a bad turn amid the current turmoil, singling out the plight of the country’s Rohingya community.
“More than ever, this council’s unity is crucial,” said Schraner Burgener, appealing to the UNSC to collectively support democracy in the country.
She addressed the council on Tuesday during a closed meeting convened by the UK, which holds the presidency of the UNSC this month.
The meeting came in the wake of the military coup and the detention of top political leaders and activists, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
“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,” said Schraner Burgener.
The armed forces have declared a year-long state of emergency. They took over following general elections in which they had backed the opposition.
Suu Kyi’s party won, but the opposition contested the results, claimed widespread fraud and demanded a re-run.
The country’s Supreme Court was set to announce its jurisdiction over the fraud allegations later this month.
The coup was staged as a new session of Parliament was set to begin. Schraner Burgener called the turn of events “surprising and shocking,” as the military had appeared committed to resolving the electoral disputes through legal mechanisms.
The envoy called for the state of emergency to end, the release of detainees, and the resumption of the post-electoral litigation “with full commitment from both sides.”
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