Finland and Switzerland ‘Aiding Myanmar Junta’s Sham Peace Effort’

November 16th, 2023  •  Author:   The Irrawaddy  •  3 minute read
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More than 600 civil society organizations are calling on the governments of Finland and Switzerland to stop lending legitimacy to the Myanmar junta’s sham peace efforts.

In an open letter issued on November 10, Progressive Voice, Justice for Myanmar and 659 other organizations stated that Finland’s government recently invited members of the junta’s so-called Peace Committee to a secret meeting in Helsinki. They added that the Swiss government organized a workshop with junta officials in Naypyitaw on the “failed” Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October.

In inviting junta representatives to Helsinki, the Finnish government signaled its recognition, acceptance, and support of the military regime – in complete violation of democratic principles and most importantly, the will of the people of Myanmar, the organizations stated.

“Finland’s actions have also undermined international sanctions targeting the junta and emboldened the junta to continue its mass atrocity crimes against Myanmar civilians with blanket impunity,” it added.

The organizations noted that since its coup in 2021, the military regime has killed at least 4,184 people while 1.7 million have been internally displaced.

In recent months, the junta has ramped up its use of airstrikes to terrorize and murder Myanmar civilians across the country. From May to August alone, the junta launched 272 airstrikes, amounting to at least two airstrikes per day, killing 72 civilians and injuring 163, as well as damaging schools, medical facilities, and religious buildings, the organizations said.

The organizations also criticized the Swiss government for lending legitimacy to the junta by supporting its sham National Ceasefire Agreement.

The failed NCA is completely irrelevant in addressing Myanmar’s multifaceted crisis, the groups stated in the letter. It added that support for the NCA emboldens the junta and worsens the unfathomable devastation in Myanmar, as the military is the source of violence and the root cause of the crisis.

Finland and Switzerland are also providing humanitarian assistance through the junta-controlled Technical Secretariat Center (TSC), a working group of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC), in collaboration with a few other countries, the organizations stated.

Rather than deliver aid to the people, the junta will only continue to weaponize the aid provided through the TSC, blocking aid deliveries, attacking humanitarian workers, and lining its pockets to continue its violence, the letter said.

Aid provision through the TSC also hinders other avenues for aid delivery, namely cross-border channels that support locally led, frontline humanitarian responders throughout Myanmar, it added.

“Overall, we are appalled to learn that Switzerland and Finland are pursuing these unethical initiatives that allow the junta to continue its war of terror against Myanmar’s people. In asymmetric conflict, the oppressor – here, the military junta – cannot be an equal or trusted partner at any negotiation table,” the organizations said.

The open letter addressed to the Finnish foreign affairs minister Elina Valtonen and Swiss foreign affairs councillor Ignazio Cassis.

The organizations called on the two countries to end all engagements with and support of the Myanmar military junta, particularly its sham peace efforts.

“We call on the Governments of Finland and Switzerland to stop lending legitimacy and recognition to the junta and instead fully support the people of Myanmar. To do so, Finland and Switzerland must immediately cease any engagement with the junta, including the aforementioned initiatives, which are an insult to Myanmar’s people who have endured decades of immense suffering from the military’s violence,” the organizations said in the letter.

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