2 February 2021

Civil Society organizations reject UN Special Envoy’s proposal of “power sharing”

Raise alarm at her misinterpretation that the “military are in control”

247 civil society organizations reject UN Special Envoy, Dr Noeleen Heyzer’s proposal that those defying the military must negotiate a power sharing as a solution to the current political, human rights and humanitarian crisis created by the terrorist military junta.

In an interview with Channel News Asia, the Special Envoy discusses finding “commonalities”, a political transformation requiring process and a “ need to negotiate what this power sharing could look like”. Her comments have been met with strong reactions.

We further raise alarm at the comments she made during her interview in which she claims that “The military is in control at this particular time” .

These statements could set a dangerous precedent, that those who take control through brutal means – massacring, killing, raping, arresting, torturing, burning villages and people, targeting civilians using airstrikes and shelling – be welcomed to share power. Such suggestions send a signal to the military that the UN is willing to act as a broker for their power despite the grave crimes they have committed, and further embolden them to commit atrocities with total impunity.

The youth who are continuing to call for an end to the military ’s terror are not being unrealistic in their efforts to see their human rights and fundamental freedoms protected. Their calls reflect the principles laid out in the UN Charter and deserve the full support and respect of UN mandate holders.

In addition, it is not required of revolutionary movements to end in a power sharing agreement with those that have committed genocide and continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. History has shown us that coups around the world have failed, and revolutions have succeeded. Those who have committed grave international crimes must be held accountable, not offered more power, a seat at the table and legitimacy by the international community. This will only embolden them to continue to commit grave crimes with total impunity.

It has been over a decade since the military initiated their political process of power sharing. This consisted of unelected military officials holding 25% of the seats in parliament and control over key ministries that were integral to the governance of Myanmar, under a military-drafted 2008 Constitution that undemocratically ensured their place in the corridors of power.

They stole the wealth of the people of Myanmar for decades during the military dictatorship and throughout the military orchestrated political process of the past decade. They exploited natural resources, while continuing to commit war crimes against people who live in resource-rich ethnic areas.

For over 70 years the military has waged a fierce war against ethnic peoples, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. While sharing limited power with the National League for Democracy, they committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against ethnic people and genocide against the Rohingya.

The Special Envoy should advise the UN Security Council to immediately refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court so that these grave crimes committed by the Myanmar military can be investigated and prosecuted. Offering them a seat at the negotiating table is not in accordance with the “will and interests of the people of Myanmar” as adopted in resolutions at the UN General Assembly.

The Special Envoy’s misinterpretation that “the military is in control” could not be farther from the truth. Over the past year, Myanmar people’s revolutionary movement has successfully prevented the military from grabbing power over the country, despite all its brutal efforts. The military are, however, conducting fierce airstrikes in ethnic areas where they are losing territorial control; shooting and shelling people forcing them to flee across the border into neighboring countries, threatening international peace and security; burning bodies including children and staff of international organizations in an attempt to instill terror. These are not acts of a military who are in control.

International experts on Myanmar have previously stated in response to UN officials inaccurately suggesting that military has “taken over” or that it has an “iron grip on power”, that “Misinterpretation leads to misrepresentation, misrepresentation leads to misunderstanding, and misunderstanding leads to mistakes” . We could not agree more.

Such mistakes have been a persistent problem for the UN in Myanmar as outlined in the Rosenthal report, which found that systemic and structural failures rendered the UN impotent in the face of the Rohingya genocide. The UN must not make the same mistakes, and once again, fail the people of Myanmar.

If the Special Envoy is genuinely committed to a “Myanmar -led process” and engaging “directly with and listen carefully to all those affected by the ongoing crisis”, she must understand the root causes of the current crisis and genuinely listen to the calls of the people of Myanmar. Their calls have been clear. The military must never rule.

The UN Special Envoy and other mandate holders, as well as UN agencies, funds programs and entities, must support the calls of the people of Myanmar and their efforts towards a future federal democratic Myanmar. They must respect their will and work to ensure that the military is never again allowed to have power.

For further information, please contact:

Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, info@progressive-voice.org

Naw Hser Hser, Women’s League of Burma, secretariat@womenofburma.org

Mu Angela, Union of Karenni State Youth, angel.moe1990@gmail.com

Signed by Myanmar CSOs and Supported by Regional and International CSOs:

1. Action Committee for Democracy Development
2. Ah Nah Podcast – Conversation with Myanmar
3. Albany Karen community, Albany, NY
4. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
5. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
6. ALTSEAN-Burma
7. American Rohingya Advocacy/ Arakan Institute for Peace and Development
8. Arizona Kachin Community
9. Asia Democracy Network
10. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
11. Asian Dignity Initiative
12. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
13. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
14. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
15. Blood Money Campaign
16. Boat People SOS
17. Burma Action Ireland
18. Burma Campaign UK
19. Burma Canadian Association Ontario (BCAO)
20. Burma Human Rights Network
21. Burma Task Force
22. Burmese American Community Institute (BACI), IN
23. Burmese American Millennials
24. Burmese Democratic Forces
25. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
26. Burmese Women’s Union
27. C&D Corporation
28. Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)
29. California Kachin Community
30. Cambodian Americans and Friends for Democracy and Human Rights Advocates
31. Campaign for a New Myanmar
32. Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
33. Chin Leaders of Tomorrow (CLT)
34. CIVICIS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
35. Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
36. Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam
37. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
38. CRPH Funding Ireland
39. Dallas Kachin Community
40. DEEKU, the Karenni Community of TX
41. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
42. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization -DPW
43. Dhanu Women Organization
44. Dhanu Youth Organization
45. Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
46. Educational Initiatives Myanmar (Czech Republic)
47. Equality Myanmar
48. European Karen Network
49. European Rohingya Council
50. Federal FM Mandalay
51. Florida Kachin Community
52. Foundation of Khmer Samaki (FKSamaki)
53. Free Burma Action Bay/USA/Global
54. Free Myanmar Campaign USA
55. Freedom for Burma
56. Freedom, Justice, Equality for Myanmar
57. Future Light Center
58. Future Light Women and Child Protection Organization
59. Future Thanlwin
60. Generation Wave
61. Georgia Kachin Community
62. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
63. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (GMSC)
64. Global Neighbors Canada
65. Global Neighbors Thailand Foundation
66. Houston Kachin Community
67. Human Rights Action Center
68. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
69. Info Birmanie
70. Initiatives for International Dialogue
71. Institute for Asian Democracy
72. Inter Pares
73. International Campaign for the Rohingya
74. International Karen Organisation
75. Iowa Kachin Community
76. Justice for Myanmar
77. Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
78. Kachin Community of Indiana
79. Kachin Community of USA
80. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
81. Kansas Karenni Community, KS
82. Karen American Association of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
83. Karen Association of Huron, SD
84. Karen Community Association UK
85. Karen Community in Syracuse, NY
86. Karen Community in the Netherlands (KCNL)
87. Karen Community of Akron, OH
88. Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
89. Karen Community of Czech Republic
90. Karen Community of Finland
91. Karen Community of Hamilton
92. Karen Community of Iowa, IA
93. Karen Community of Ireland
94. Karen Community of Israel
95. Karen Community of Kansas City, KS & MO
96. Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo
97. Karen Community of Leamington K
98. Karen Community of Lethbridge
99. Karen Community of London
100. Karen Community of Minnesota, MN
101. Karen Community of North Carolina, NC
102. Karen Community of Ottawa
103. Karen Community of Regina
104. Karen Community of Rochester, Rochester, NY
105. Karen Community of Saskatoon
106. Karen Community of Thunderbay
107. Karen Community of Toronto
108. Karen Community of Windsor
109. Karen Community of Winnipeg
110. Karen Community Society of British Columbia (KCSBC)
111. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
112. Karen Finland Culture Association
113. Karen Human Rights Group
114. Karen Organization of America
115. Karen Organization of Illinois, IL
116. Karen Peace Support Network
117. Karen Rivers Watch
118. Karen Swedish Community (KSC)
119. Karen Thai Group
120. Karen Women’s Organization
121. Karen Youth Education Pathways
122. Karen Youth Networks
123. Karen Youth of Norway
124. Karen Youth of Toronto
125. Karen Youth Organization
126. Karen Youth UK (KYUK)
127. Karenni Baptist Convention of America
128. Karenni Civil Society Network
129. Karenni Community of Amarillo, TX
130. Karenni Community of Arizona
131. Karenni Community of Arkansas,
132. Karenni Community of Austin, TX
133. Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY
134. Karenni Community of Buffalo, NY
135. Karenni Community of Chicago, IL
136. Karenni Community of Colorado, CO
137. Karenni Community of Connecticut, CT
138. Karenni Community of Dallas, TX
139. Karenni Community of Des Moines, IA
140. Karenni Community of Florida, FL
141. Karenni Community of Fort Wayne, IN
142. Karenni Community of Fort Worth, TX
143. Karenni Community of Georgia, GA
144. Karenni Community of Grand Rapid, MI
145. Karenni Community of Houston, TX
146. Karenni Community of Idaho, ID
147. Karenni Community of Indianapolis, IN
148. Karenni Community of Lansing, MI
149. Karenni Community of Lousiville, KY
150. Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA
151. Karenni Community of Minnesota, MN
152. Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
153. Karenni Community of New Jersey, NJ
154. Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC
155. Karenni Community of Portland, OR
156. Karenni Community of Rockford, IL
157. Karenni Community of San Antonio, TX
158. Karenni Community of Sioux Falls, SD
159. Karenni Community of Utah, UT
160. Karenni Community of Utica, NY
161. Karenni Community of Washington, WA
162. Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
163. Karenni Federation of Australia
164. Karenni National Women’s Organization
165. Karenni Society of Canada
166. Karenni Society of Omaha, NE
167. Karenni Talkshow-KTS, USA
168. Karenni Youth of Minnesota, MN
169. Karenni-American Association
170. Karenni-American Catholic Association
171. Kayahlilaykloe, Austin, MN
172. Kayahliphu Youth – KLY
173. Kayaw Women Association
174. Keng Tung Youth
175. Kentucky Kachin Community
176. KnA-Kay Phoe Du prgm
177. Korea Karen Organization
178. Korea Karen Youth Organization
179. Kyaukpadaung Youth Network
180. Kyaukse University Interim Administrative Council
181. Kyaukse University Students’ Union
182. LA Rohingya Association/America Rohingya Justice Network
183. Let’s Help Each Other
184. Los Angeles Myanmar Movement
185. Louisiana Kachin Community
186. Mandalay Regional Youth Association
187. Mandalay Regional Youth Network
188. Maramagri Youth Network
189. Maryland Kachin Community
190. MeBoun Foundation
191. Metta Campaign Mandalay
192. Michigan Kachin Community
193. Milk Tea Alliance
194. Minnesota Kachin Community
195. My STORY photo project Association
196. Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP)
 197. Myanmar Advocacy Coalition
198. Myanmar Community Austria
199. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)
200. Myanmar Family Community Ireland
201. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
202. Myanmar Student Association Ontario (MSAO)
203. Nationalities Alliance of Burma USA
204. Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
205. New York Kachin Community
206. No Business With Genocide
207. North Carolina Kachin Community
208. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
209. Olive Organization
210. Omaha Kachin Community
211. Oversea Karen Organization Japan
212. Pa-O Women’s Union
213. Pennsylvania Kachin Community
214. Progressive Voice
215. Rochester Karenni Community, NY
216. Rohingya Action Ireland
217. Sandhi Governance Institute
218. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
219. SEA Junction
220. Shan MATA
221. Sisters2Sisters
222. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
223. South Carolina Kachin Community
224. Southern Youth Development Organization
225. Stefanus Alliance International
226. Students for Free Burma
227. Support the Democracy Movement in Burma
228. Swedish Burma Committee
229. Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
230. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
231. Ta’ang Legal Aid
232. Tanintharyi MATA
233. Taunggyi Youth Center
234. Tennessee Kachin Community
235. The Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
236. U.S. Campaign for Burma
237. Union of Karenni State Youth
238. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
239. United States Chin Coalition (USCC)
240. Virginia Kachin Community
241. Washington Kachin Community
242. West Virginia Kachin Community
243. Women Activists Myanmar
244. Women Advocacy Coalition Myanmar (WAC-M)
245. Women’s League of Burma
246. Women’s Peace Network
247. West Coast Burmese Coalition (WCBC):
• BAB at Berkeley, and
• BSA at UCR