We condemn the Yoon Seok-yeol administration for inviting the Myanmar ambassador to South Korea to an arms export event
Are you going to sell weapons to an anti-humanitarian war crime group?
It has been two years and three months since the illegal coup by Myanmar’s military took place. Since the coup, Myanmar’s military has been criticized by the international community for committing crimes against humanity such as indiscriminate slaughter of its citizens, arrest and detention, torture and illegal execution. Although the international community is banning arms exports to Myanmar as well as imposing economic sanctions, Myanmar’s military continues to commit crimes against humanity, including genocide. The South Korean government has also taken measures such as suspending military exchanges with Myanmar’s military and exports of strategic materials, including weapons, since the military coup in 2021, and such measures have continued under the Yoon Seok-yeol government. The international community expects the South Korean government to play a more responsible role in stopping the increasingly brutal war crimes committed by Myanmar’s military.
However, Korean civil society received shocking news that the Korean government invited Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea to an arms export promotion event. According to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 10, the government invited diplomats from major arms defense importers to a promotional event for domestically produced weapons. Problematically, Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea, Mr. Thant Sin was also invited to attend.
Our group, Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar (106 organizations nationwide) is shocked and angry that Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea, who represents Myanmar’s military, was included in the invitation. This is not only contrary to the position the Korean government has taken against the military coup in Myanmar, but implies intent to sell weapons to Myanmar’s military, which is fundamentally committing crimes against humanity.
We want to ask the Government of Yoon Seok-yeol. Did you know that President Yoon Seok-yeol’s invitation to the G7 summit from May 19th was a diplomatic achievement and yet it has now condoned the military coup in Myanmar. Unless the Korean government’s foreign policy toward Myanmar’s military has changed without the knowledge of the international community as well as the Korean civil society, we cannot help but ask why the photo of Myanmar’s ambassador boarding the K-2 tank should be reported in the Korean media.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the event was organized to carry out the Yoon Suk-yeol government’s state affairs. We cannot help but ask whether the Yoon Seok-yeol government’s goal is to sell weapons to anti-humanitarian war crime groups. It is also questionable whether this is in line with the so-called “value alliance” that President Yoon Seok-yeol emphasized at the recent Korea-Japan summit and the Korea-U.S. summit.
Considering Myanmar citizens who are still brutally slaughtered by the Myanmar military, Korean civil society is not sure how to explain to Myanmar citizens why the Korean government would invite Myanmar’s ambassador to Korea to board a tank. We must know who decided to invite Myanmar’s ambassador to Korea and why. And we call for the government to take responsibility for these decisions.
If the government does not publicly explain and take action, we will actively inform the international community, including the United Nations, that Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea, representing Myanmar’s military, was invited to an arms export promotion event by the South Korean government.
The Government of Yoon Seok-yeol, which hosted the event to sell weapons to anti-humanitarian war crime groups, must evaluate themselves as to whether they are qualified to participate in the G7 summit. Above all, they should openly reveal this to the global community, including Myanmar citizens, who have criticized Myanmar’s military coup as they support Myanmar’s desire for democracy.
May 12, 2023
Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar (106 organizations nationwide)
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