Revised UN Resolution Waters Down Call for Halting Arms Sales to Myanmar

ASEAN had lobbied for the removal of a clause calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar that was included in an earlier draft of the UN General Assembly resolution.

Revised UN Resolution Waters Down Call for Halting Arms Sales to Myanmar

Sponsors of a U.N. resolution on Myanmar appear to have weakened language barring international arms sales to the Southeast Asian country, where hundreds have been killed after a military coup, a uploaded on the General Assembly’s website Thursday shows.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had lobbied last month for the removal of a clause calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar and that was included in an of the U.N. General Assembly resolution.

A senior diplomatic source who declined to be named confirmed to BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, that the resolution had been revised, but declined to say what exactly had been changed. The new draft was uploaded to the General Assembly’s website on Thursday afternoon.

“Yes, it has been revised,” the official said, when asked whether changes were made to the resolution.

The new draft resolution does not call for an “immediate suspension” of sales and transfers of weapons, munitions, and other military equipment to Myanmar, as the older one had done.

Instead it urges U.N. member-states “to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.”

The resolution is set to be heard, and possibly voted on, in the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, according to a calendar of the day’s schedule on the website of the U.N. body. A vote on an earlier draft was postponed May 18.

On May 27, BenarNews was the first to report that ASEAN had sent a letter to the resolution’s sponsors proposing the deletion of the arms embargo paragraph – which was among the reasons for the vote’s postponement.

The revised clause in the new draft “Recalls, in line with the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire as supported by the Security Council in its resolution 2532 (2020) of 1 July 2020, the need to de-escalate violence, and in that regard calls upon all Member States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.”

Earlier this week, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said it was imperative for ASEAN to support an arms embargo on Myanmar, where security forces have killed more than 800 people – mostly anti-coup protesters – since the military toppled the elected government on Feb. 1.

“ASEAN must support the passing of a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a halt of weapons transfers to the Myanmar military,” Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday.

“Anything less is an abdication of ASEAN’s leadership role on the Myanmar crisis, and shows ASEAN is siding with a military that is continuing to kill and imprison unarmed protesters and other civilians.”

ASEAN ‘centrality’

ASEAN’s efforts to deal with the political crisis in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 military coup have largely been unsuccessful.

The United States, the G7 group, and the U.N. have all stressed ASEAN’s crucial role and “centrality” in dealing with Myanmar.

A senior diplomat from one of the resolution’s sponsor-countries told BenarNews last month that ASEAN wanted the draft resolution revised also because the bloc believed it should take the lead in resolving the post-coup crisis in Myanmar.

Accordingly, it appears the new draft has increased the number of references to the bloc’s importance in the region.

The latest draft has an addition to clause 5 – which is to encourage cooperation of a possible ASEAN envoy to Myanmar – a member of the regional bloc – with the Special Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General.

The revised resolution also adds a call to Myanmar “to continue engaging” with ASEAN “taking into account the important role of the Association in continuing to assist Myanmar in its transition to democracy.”

Still, ASEAN has been roundly criticized for its perceived inaction on Myanmar.

While the regional bloc succeeded in hammering out a five-point consensus on Myanmar with the junta chief during a special summit of ASEAN leaders in late April, no action has been take on any of the points almost seven weeks since.

The consensus called for the “immediate cessation of violence,” which continues. On Wednesday, residents in central Myanmar told Radio Free Asia (RFA), a BenarNews sister entity, that four elderly villagers were killed after the Myanmar military set fire to their village the night before.

The bloc had called for a constructive dialogue among all parties, but no such dialogue has begun.

Among the other points agreed on was the appointment of a special envoy to Myanmar and a visit by an ASEAN delegation to the crisis-ridden country, headed by that envoy.

No envoy has been named so far, amid reports of differences between ASEAN member-states on the issue. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore openly expressed their frustration at a delay in naming an envoy, at a meeting last week in China between foreign minister from the bloc and China.

Notably, no Asian or Southeast Asian country, except for South Korea, is among the 54 sponsors of the U.N. resolution, which was proposed by Liechtenstein.

On the same day at United Nations headquarters in New York, the Security Council is scheduled to hear from one of the two ASEAN officials from Brunei – ASEAN’s chair this year – who visited Myanmar earlier this month.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Vietnam to Use Japan-Donated Vaccines in Three Epicenters of Fourth COVID-19 Wave

Police officer who issued IDs tested positive had contact with 6,000 people.

Vietnam to Use Japan-Donated Vaccines in Three Epicenters of Fourth COVID-19 Wave

Vietnam’s Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long told state media Thursday that the majority of the one million COVID-19 vaccines donated to the country by Japan this week would be used in the three epicenters of the country’s fourth wave of the deadly virus.

Vietnam has been among the most effective countries in tackling COVID-19, reporting no deaths among its 95 million people through late July 2020—a record that was attributed to effective contact tracing, strict quarantines, and early testing.

Since then, four separate waves of the virus swept over the country, leaving a trail of 11,794 confirmed cases and 61 deaths.

Since the beginning of the fourth wave in late April, the northern province of Bac Giang has recorded 5,007 cases, while nearby Bac Ninh province confirmed 1,454, and the southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City reported 1,197.

The minister said Ho Chi Minh City would get 800,000 doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan, with vaccination starting this week.

Vietnam is the first ASEAN country to receive vaccines donated by Japan and the fifth shipment for Vietnam through the COVAX program and individual country donations. It remains the only country in ASEAN to have not used Chinese vaccines.

China has donated 100 million doses to other countries in the region, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on June 8.

Hoang Viet, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City Law University told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that although China has announced it would be donating vaccines to many different countries, Vietnam was not among them.

“The first possibility is that the relationship between Vietnam and China is no longer as warm as before. The second possibility is that China may require some conditions for receiving donations or purchasing vaccines but Vietnam did not accept them," Hoang said.

He also said that the Vietnamese government may have taken into consideration its people’s objection to the use of Chinese vaccines.

"When the government talked about the possibility of buying Chinese vaccines, many people protested, creating pressure and making the government very cautious," he said.

Carl Thayer a professor at the University of New South Wales told RFA, “The Vietnamese government presently is casting a wide net seeking vaccine supplies from a variety of countries.

Among the vaccines in use in Vietnam are Russia’s Sputnik V and the U.S.’ Moderna vaccine. Additionally, Vietnam recently gave emergency approval for Pfizer vaccine made in Belgium and Germany. 

“China does not appear to be on Vietnam’s list due to anticipated widespread public reaction against Chinese vaccine,” Thayer said.

In a related development, Mr. Lam Minh Thanh, chairman of the southern province of Kien Giang’s People’s Committee said that the province planned to ask the central government to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all of 170,000 residents on Phu Quoc island so that the popular tourist destination could welcome visitors again from September or October 2021.

Contact tracing

A police officer in the northern coastal province of Nghe An who works in an ID-issuing office had contact with 6,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 according to a report in Ho Chi Minh City’s Public Security Newspaper.

The officer, called patient BN11634 in the report, worked at the photography and fingerprinting section of the Dien Chau district police. He had been on a busy business and travel schedule before being confirmed positive for COVID-19. 

His positive test caused Dien Chau and nearby Vinh city to completely close down Thursday.

A person who had contact with BN11634, a public servant at the Dien Chau People’s Committee tested positive by mid-day Thursday.

The report said it was not clear if the officer could be prosecuted for spreading the virus or not. A 22-year-old woman was Monday prosecuted on charges of spreading COVID-19.

According to the investigation into the woman’s case, she met with an infected person but did not reveal this to authorities.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, Head of the Propaganda and Education Department under the Nghe An Provincial Party Committee, denied that patient BN11634 had close contact with over 6,000 people. 

“Responsible agencies in Dien Chau district have traced/examined the case and confirmed 103 contacts, and 6,000 related people of which many have had close contact with the patient”, said Huong. 

The Tuoi Tre online newspaper quoted Huong as saying that most of the related people were local residents who had come to the headquarters of Dien Chau People’s Committee to apply for a new ID.  

However, Huong did not specify how those, who had close contact with patient BN11634, should be categorized. 

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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