– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly
26 February 2021
Excellencies, dear friends,
I once again warmly welcome the United Nation’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, to the General Assembly. I am very pleased she is able to join us to brief on the evolving situation at such a critical juncture for Myanmar.
Let me start by reiterating my deep concern regarding recent developments in Myanmar and my strong condemnation of the military coup, and its worrying impact on the democratic process and civilian rule in Myanmar.
Since the military takeover on February 1st, an alarming number of arrests have been made, including the State Counsellor Daw Aung san Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other political leaders and advisers.
The use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators is particularly alarming. I am saddened that these actions have already resulted in the loss of innocent lives. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of the deceased.
I am also troubled by the mass arrests of those involved in organizing peaceful protests. Peaceful assembly, association and freedom of opinion and expression are fundamental pillars of any democracy and must be respected at all times.
I note with concern the growing consolidation of power by the military in state organs, which undermine the democratic gains made by the Government over the last few years. These steps risk pushing Myanmar back towards isolation from the international community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is not too late for the military to reverse the negative trajectory on the ground and respect the will of its people. The military must exercise restraint and help foster a path back to civilian rule in line with the outcome of the recent elections.
I also call on all leaders to act in the interest of Myanmar’s democratic reform, engage in meaningful dialogue, refrain from violence and to fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Political detainees must be released immediately.
Taking this opportunity, I reiterate my call on the military authorities to grant the UN Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, access to Myanmar to assess the situation first-hand under agreeable conditions while fostering the conditions for a frank and open dialogue.
And I also call for unity within the international community and Member States. If you work together, you can make a positive difference to this dire situation.
In addition to the strong messages from me and the Secretary General, early statements from ASEAN, the OIC, EU and subsequent 4 February Security Council statement, among others, were positive steps in this regard. The international community must continue to stand united and speak with one voice in support of the democratic transition, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law.