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Myanmar's U.N. Ambassador Defies Military, Calls For Global Action To End Coup


Myanmar's U.N. ambassador broke with his own government yesterday. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told the U.N. General Assembly...


KYAW MOE TUN: We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy.

SIMON: Of course, the military seized power on February 1 and has detained Aung San Suu Kyi. There are reports today of more arrests in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Kyaw Win is executive director of Burma Human Rights Network. We've reached him in London. Thanks so much for being with us.

KYAW WIN: Thank you very much for having me today.

SIMON: And what's been your reaction to the ambassador's speech?

KYAW WIN: This is really encouraging. And the whole country, you know, we were very sad that day, yesterday, for crack down - violence crack down and then denied. When we heard this, everyone was very happy and everyone was saying that tonight we are going to sleep very happily with, you know, encourage. And then this is what, you know, people are craving for, you know, some development, some success stories, because everyone in Burma now, they are struggling and they are, you know, risking their life on the street. And when they heard this news, they were very much happy. And they appreciate ambassador.

SIMON: State TV in Myanmar says the ambassador has been fired. Is he in danger now? Do you think he's made himself a marked man?

KYAW WIN: He is because I think, you know, that notorious and ruthless military will do - go any far to achieve their goal. I think as long as he is in U.S., I hope and I believe that U.S. government will protect him. But the problem is his family. His family - he has old age parents. I hope this faceless (ph) army will not hurt these old people, you know.

SIMON: Yeah. The ambassador's speech drew much praise from the U.S., the European Union and other countries. And of course, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on some leaders of Myanmar's military. But are foreign nations limited in how they can help?

KYAW WIN: I think it is the political will of the individual country. You know, we have seen the international, that the failure to intervene and, you know, the bloodshed would happen after the, you know, failure of thing like Syria. So we don't want another scenario here. But the thing is, this is a very different story with other countries. This is a peaceful protesters, civilians, and they are standing up against a ruthless, brutal army. So you can see that if without any international intervention or protection, this uprising will go to end very badly.

SIMON: I have to ask, before Aung San Suu Kyi was essentially overthrown, she'd been widely criticized around the world for essentially sanctioning the oppression of the Rohingya people there in Myanmar. That hasn't changed, has it?

KYAW WIN: No. I mean, this is a different thing, which we stand up with the Rohingya people. And this is very important that Rohingya people, their voice must be heard and their plight must be taken accountable on every decision-making on Burma, on every diplomatic approach going to talk on Burma. That's why we are urging international community it should be one condition to recognize any government in case of (ph) military - that government must sign Rome Statute, for that move will protect and guarantee all the minorities in Burma who - you don't want to see any genocide in Burma again.

SIMON: Kyaw Win is executive director of the Burma Human Rights Network. Thanks so much for being with us.

KYAW WIN: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.