Ban Ki-moon dispatches Myanmar envoy to region as situation worsens

Ban Ki-moon

26 September 2007 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today he is sending his Special Envoy dealing with Myanmar to the region in response to the deteriorating situation in the Asian nation, and once again urged authorities there to respond to the ongoing peaceful protests with the utmost restraint.

Noting reports of the use of force and of arrests and beatings, Mr. Ban called again on authorities “to exercise utmost restraint toward the peaceful demonstrations taking place, as such action can only undermine the prospects for peace, prosperity and stability in Myanmar,” in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The Secretary-General – who held a tête-à-tête with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win later today – called on the country’s senior leadership to cooperate fully with the mission of his Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari “in order to take advantage of the willingness of the United Nations to assist in the process of national reconciliation through dialogue.”

While Myanmar’s Government has not yet accepted Mr. Gambari’s mission, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York that “he will stay in the region, and as soon as he gets the green light he will proceed.”

After Mr. Gambari briefed the Security Council this afternoon on the latest developments, Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert of France – which holds the rotating Council presidency this month – issued a press statement voicing members’ strong support for Mr. Gambari’s visit and underlining the need for the envoy to be received by authorities as soon as possible.

Mr. Ripert said Council members expressed concern at the situation and urged restraint, especially from the authorities.

The demonstrations began last month to protest against a surge in fuel prices. More recently, the protests have swelled and included many of the country’s monks.

Also expressing concern about the well-being of the demonstrators, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the authorities to allow the peaceful expression of dissent in the country and to abide by international human rights law in their response.

“The use of excessive force and all forms of arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters are strictly prohibited under international law,” she said.

Ms. Arbour also expressed her continuing concern for those who have been detained during recent weeks, and for the welfare of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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