Malaysian PM laments lack of UN action on Myanmar crisis

Thousands have been killed since Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021 from Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has expressed his disappointment with the United Nations Security Council over its response to the continuing political crisis in Myanmar.

Ismail told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday that the Security Council had not taken “any serious action” in dealing with the situation in Myanmar and described the response as “very saddening”.

“Some even see the Security Council as having washed its hands of [Myanmar] and handing the matter over to ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations],” he said.

Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021 from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, plunging the country into what some UN experts have described as a nascent civil war that has killed thousands.

The prime minister also said that ASEAN’s “Five-Point Consensus” – which had called for an immediate end to violence, the appointment of a special envoy and discussions involving all stakeholders – needed to be given “a new lease of life”.

“Malaysia is disappointed that there is no meaningful progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus especially by the Myanmar junta. In its current form, the ASEAN Five Point Consensus cannot continue any longer,” he said.

Malaysia has been leading calls for a tougher approach to Myanmar’s military administration, and has also called for ASEAN to engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) established by the elected politicians the generals removed from power.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore have also pushed for a firmer line with Myanmar’s generals.

The Malaysian prime minister added that the crisis had worsened the situation for millions of refugees from Myanmar, including the mainly Muslim Rohingya refugees – nearly a million of whom now languish in sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh.

“Although Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, Malaysia, on humanitarian grounds, accepted nearly 200,000 Rohingya refugees,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi and top figures in her cabinet and party were arrested by the coup leaders, and have since been tried on a variety of charges that critics say were fabricated to keep them out of politics.

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said earlier this week that conditions for Myanmar’s 54 million people have gone from “bad to worse to horrific” as a result of the military seizing power.

The international response to the crisis caused by the military coup had “failed”, Andrews told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Andrews also reported that the Myanmar military had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual violence, torture, deliberate campaigns against civilians, and murder.

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