Myanmar’s junta called on the U.S. State Department yesterday to extradite its permanent U.N. representative so that he can be prosecuted for treason.
On Wednesday, the junta’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that it had officially notified its American counterpart and the United Nations to no longer recognize Kyaw Moe Tun as its envoy to the global assembly and return him home.
Kyaw Moe Tun was dismissed Feb. 27, one day after he rejected the military takeover. The junta considers his ongoing attendance of U.N. meetings as Myanmar’s representative to be illegal.
He was charged with treason due to his links to organizations such as the National Unity Government, or NUG, which wishes to end military rule, and the provisional assembly known as the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. The junta has declared them to be “unlawful associations” and obtained arrest warrants from the relevant district courts for Kyaw Moe Tun.
The NUG is led by lawmakers from the National League for Democracy, or NLD, which won the November election in a landslide only to be accused of voter fraud by the military, whose proxy party proved deeply unpopular with voters.
Since October 2020, Kyaw Moe Tun has been Myanmar’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations after he was appointed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. Several weeks after the Feb. 1 coup, he declared before the U.N. General Assembly that he did not represent the junta but the deposed, NLD-led government.
After that, the junta-controlled ministry formally replaced him with a military envoy, Col. Aung Thurin.
Nonetheless, Kyaw Moe Tun remains the only permanent ambassador attending U.N. sessions. The question of whom to recognize will be left to the General Assembly to decide in September.
Htin Lin Aung, the NUG’s Information and Technology Minister said the United States is unlikely to comply with the junta’s extradition request, adding that the NUG is working to make sure he remains in his New York office.
“I do not think the States will hand over a person like Kyaw Moe Tuu. It’s not possible from both diplomatic or human rights perspectives,” he said.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “deep concerns” about Myanmar’s military coup and urged Southeast Asian countries to intervene to end the violence and restore democracy at a meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers.