UN Expert Urges Korea Play Enhanced Role in Addressing Myanmar Crisis

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UN Expert Urges Republic of Korea Play Enhanced Role in Addressing Myanmar Crisis
UN Expert Urges Republic of Korea Play Enhanced Role in Addressing Myanmar Crisis

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar today urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) to take even stronger action to help reverse the international community’s failure to address the crisis in Myanmar.

“The Republic of Korea can play a vital leadership role in denying the Myanmar junta the means to continue holding 54 million people hostage while becoming a leader in providing humanitarian support to those in desperate need,’’ said Tom Andrews, the UN expert, at the end of a six-day official visit to the Republic of Korea.

In a statement delivered at the end of his visit, the Special Rapporteur urged the government to build on the positive steps it has taken including publicly denouncing the coup, imposing an arms embargo, and issuing a moratorium on forced returns of Myanmar nationals back to Myanmar.

“Korea can lead by example to prevent Myanmar nationals from being forcibly returned to Myanmar from other countries,” said Andrews.

“Given the brutal violence being perpetrated by the junta, no country should force anyone back to Myanmar. Korea has established an unambiguous policy that protects people from being forced back to Myanmar. It should be considered as a model for all countries in the region.”

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews.
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews.

Andrews highlighted South Korea’s unique position to have a positive impact on the situation in Myanmar.

“Not only is the ROK a strong regional power with a vibrant economy and a member of ASEAN+3, but as I learned in my travels here, the people of the ROK can identify deeply with a people who are under siege and yet are also defiant and committed to undoing the shackles of a military dictatorship.”

“Now it is time for the ROK to build upon the positive steps it has taken and transform its political support and empathy for Myanmar into even stronger action,’’ Andrews said.

Andrews provided recommendations to the government at the end of his visit.

“The Republic of Korea should denounce the fraudulent elections that the junta is planning for next year, impose economic sanctions on key economic targets associated with the junta, and expand upon its humane treatment of those Myanmar nationals residing in the ROK while encouraging Myanmar’s neighbors to do the same.”

“While the humanitarian visa program allows Myanmar nationals with valid visas in the ROK to legally extend their stay and have access to employment, I urge the Government to deepen these efforts by ensuring that all persons from Myanmar residing in Korea, including irregular migrants, can regularise their status, to avoid exploitation and abuse,” stated Andrews.

During his visit, Andrews met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives and CEOs of major Korean businesses with operations in Myanmar.  He also met with the National Unity Government’s Representative to the ROK Korea, and members of the Bamar, Karen, Chin, Kachin, Mon and Rakhine ethnic groups who are currently in Myanmar.

Andrews travelled to the city of Gwangju, where he visited memorial sites of the May 18 Revolution and met with members Gwangju Myanmar solidarity movement.