During an interview in Munich, the foreign minister said as India does not expect Europe to have a view of China identical to its own, the Western world should understand that India cannot have a view of Russia identical to its own.
India, China and Russia abstained in the United Nations Security Council on a draft resolution that demanded an immediate end to violence and the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-president Win Myint.
The 15-member Council has been split on Myanmar for decades and was previously only able to agree on formal statements about the country, which has been under military rule since February 2021. Notably, this is the first-ever resolution on the turmoil-ridden Southeast Asian country.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, presiding over the meeting, explained that the complex situation in Myanmar calls for an approach of quiet and patient diplomacy.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said there is no quick fix to the issue.
On February 1, 2021, Suu Kyi’s government was deposed in a military coup after her National League for Democracy party’s victory in national elections the previous year.
For five decades, Myanmar had been under strict military rule, leading to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip, culminating in Suu Kyi’s rise to leadership in the 2015 elections, the international community responded by lifting most sanctions and pouring investment into the country.
The coup was met with widespread civic unrest as people denounced her removal and the introduction of military rule. The Junta detained Suu Kyi and other officials and repressed protests violently, with the UN warning that the country had descended into civil war.
Last month, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights monitoring organisation, said over 16,000 people had been detained on political charges in Myanmar since the army takeover. Of those arrested, more than 13,000 were still in detention. The association said at least 2,465 civilians had been killed since the 2021 takeover, although the number is thought to be far higher.
Much of the international community, including Myanmar’s fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have expressed frustration at the hard line the generals have taken in resisting reform. Myanmar’s rulers agreed to a five-point ASEAN plan in April 2021 to restore peace and stability, but the military has made little effort to implement the plan.
The plan calls for the immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all concerned parties, mediation of the dialogue process by an ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels and a visit to Myanmar by the association’s special envoy to meet all concerned parties.
Currently, UN special envoy Noeleen Heyzer and ASEAN special envoy Prak Sokhonn, a Cambodian minister, have both visited Myanmar but neither was allowed to meet Suu Kyi.
The resolution also expresses ‘deep concern’ at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military.
It said they should be released immediately and at “the increasingly large numbers of internally displaced persons and dramatic increase in humanitarian need”. It reiterates the council’s condemnation of the execution of activists in July.