UNITED NATIONS: Any instability in Myanmar will directly affect India and New Delhi does not want action by the international community that would further destabilise the Southeast Asian country, India's Permanent Representative to the UN and President of UN Security Council for the month of August Ambassador T S Tirumurti has said.
The Myanmar military staged a coup on February 1 this year, nullifying the results of the November 2020 elections and imposed a state of emergency after detaining hundreds of activists, civil servants and politicians, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD).
The military staged the coup amid its rising friction with the ruling NLD government over the results of the November 8 general election.
The NLD had registered a thumping victory in the polls.
However, the military had alleged discrepancies in the electoral process.
The democratic transition in Myanmar had taken place in 2011 after decades of military rule.
"Myanmar is an extremely important neighbour for us. So what happens in Myanmar is extremely important for us and we have a direct stake in the situation in Myanmar," Tirumurti said on Monday during a press conference at the UN Headquarters on the Security Council's Programme of Work.
India, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2021-22 tenure, assumed the rotating Presidency of the powerful UN organ for the month of August.
In response to a question on Myanmar, Tirumurti said India's position on Myanmar has been fairly clear and consistent.
"We are deeply concerned about the developments in Myanmar. We have condemned the use of violence in Myanmar. We have urged maximum restraint. We believe that there can be no falling back on the path to democracy in Myanmar," he said.
India has called for upholding the rule of law, taking forward the democratic process, in which New Delhi has actually invested in, and also called for the release of detained leaders, Tirumurti said.
"We have repeatedly called for engagement from their side without preconditions and for the peaceful and urgent resolution," he said.
Tirumurti said India has extended support to the efforts of ASEAN and hopes it can move expeditiously on their efforts and also on the five-point consensus.
"So, we need a constructive and also a coordinated approach.
What we do not want is an action on the part of the international community which will further destabilise the country because any instability in the country will directly affect India," he said.
Responding to a reporter's question that India has rejected asylum seekers from Myanmar, Tirumurti said this is "completely incorrect."
"It's completely incorrect that we are rejecting people (from Myanmar). We have several thousands of them in India," he said.
It is important to understand that India has four states that are neighbouring Myanmar, Tirumurti said, adding that In Mizoram, the ethnicity of some people is "exactly the same as the ethnicity on the other side of Myanmar in the Chins, for example."
The ASEAN five-point consensus states that there shall be an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all parties shall exercise utmost restraint; constructive dialogue among all parties concerned shall commence seeking a peaceful solution in the interests of the people.
It said a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN; ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre (ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management); and the special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned.
On whether the situation in Myanmar will be discussed in the Council during India's Presidency, the Indian ambassador said members of the Security Council have been following the situation very closely and have had consultations, private meetings and made pronouncements on Myanmar.
The Council has also expressed strong support for the ASEAN initiative and the five-point consensus.
"As far as the Security Council is concerned, they are following it very closely," he said, adding that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting will also happen "very soon" which will look at the ASEAN envoy and discuss other issues.
"We will have to give the ASEAN Initiative a fair chance. And I think the Council members understand that because we have collectively supported the ASEAN position. So, I think it's important for us to give that space for ASEAN to go ahead and take their initiative forward."
As India, we hope that this initiative will be expedited and that is something we will be looking forward to," Tirumurti said, adding that as of now, the Council is not yet looking at any meeting on Myanmar as such.
On a question on Palestine, he said India has been consistent in "our longstanding support for the Palestinian cause and for the establishment of a sovereign, viable and an independent state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel."
India believes firmly that only the two-state solution will deliver enduring peace for all Palestinians and Israelis.
"This should be achieved through direct negotiations between both sides on all the final status issues. We have always stood ready to support all the efforts by our regional and international partners to restart this negotiation and the Middle East peace process because we are convinced that all of us need a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Tirumurti said.
"We have been in touch with both the parties, and we are looking at a long-term ceasefire. The May 21 ceasefire was brought in due to concerted efforts of the international community," he said.
At this point, the Security Council's focus has been on humanitarian aid, which they feel should be going to Gaza through the Palestinian Authority, he said, adding that, "so we want to work with the Palestinian Authority on this."