So the government should answer why Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea was invited to a promotional event for arms exports
On May 12, a group of Korean Civil Society in support of Democracy in Myanmar(106 organizations nationwide) issued a statement condemning the invitation of Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea, who represents the military, an anti-humanitarian war crimes group, to an event to promote arms exports and demanded an explanation from the government. This is not only contrary to the position the South Korean government has taken against Myanmar’s military coup but also intended to sell weapons to Myanmar’s military, which is committing crimes against humanity. In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would continue to implement measures such as “suspending new exchanges and cooperation in the field of defense and security with Myanmar” and “not permitting the export of military supplies to Myanmar and strictly controlling the export of dual-use items.” It also responded, “This event is a promotional event for the diplomatic corps in Korea, including ASEAN members, and has nothing to do with the Korean government’s policy on the situation in Myanmar.”
The Korean Civil Society in support of Democracy in Myanmar can’t help but be angered by this government’s insincere explanation. First of all, the government’s invitation of Myanmar’s ambassador to Korea to promote arms exports conflicts with measures to suspend new exchanges and cooperation in the defense and security sectors. The arms export promotion event basically presupposes arms exports and corresponds to clear new exchanges and cooperation. It is hard to understand the invitation of the Myanmar ambassador to South Korea, even though the measures are still being implemented, and the government has not responded properly. Due to the reckless arms export promotion policy, Korean weapons have already been found in conflict zones around the world. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), many of Korea’s major exporters (74%) between 2016 and 2020 are in conflict or experiencing problems of dictatorship or human rights repression. The South Korean government has not hesitated to use the pain of war across the border as an opportunity for growth. This is why the act of promoting domestic weapons to Myanmar’s military personnel is not just an invitation to a diplomatic corps in Korea, but a serious issue.
It is also hard to understand the mention of ASEAN member states. Myanmar is an ASEAN member, but the military representative has not been able to attend the ASEAN meeting since the military coup. This is because the representation of Myanmar’s military is also a problem within ASEAN. Nevertheless, it is hard to understand that the South Korean government is inviting Myanmar’s ambassador to South Korea, who represents Myanmar’s military, on the grounds of being an “ASEAN member.” In particular, the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to an event to promote arms exports seems to have failed to properly grasp the situation of ASEAN, or it invited the Myanmar ambassador to South Korea as a desperate measure when ASEAN member countries became a problem.
It is more devastating that the South Korean government explained that it had nothing to do with government policy when it invited the Myanmar ambassador to South Korea to a promotional event for arms exports and put him on board a K-2 tank. The government’s insincere and irresponsible attitude without a proper explanation, apology or action is worthy of criticism. The government should now have a proper explanation and apology to the Myanmar people. It’s the least moral thing for the Myanmar people who are being killed, detained, and tortured by the military junta.
May 18, 2023
Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar (106 organizations nationwide)
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