Aug 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Two men arrested after plotting to harm Myanmar's UN ambassador

Protesters outside of a United Nations building in Bangkok, Thailand, in February 2021.

Protesters outside of a United Nations building in Bangkok, Thailand, in February. Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Police officers arrested two Myanmar citizens Friday on charges of plotting to violently attack Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced.

Why it matters: Tun, who was elected to represent Myanmar's now-deposed elected civilian government, is an adamant opponent of the country's military junta, which staged a coup in February and later killed hundreds of protesters during anti-coup demonstrations.

The Southern District of New York said that suspects Phyo Hein Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, who are citizens of Myanmar currently residing in New York, allegedly planned to attack Tun to force him to step down from his post.

  • Htut specifically was contacted by an arms dealer in Thailand who sells weapons to the Myanmar military and was offered money to hire attackers to hurt the ambassador.
  • If Tun did not step down, Htut agreed to hire people to kill the ambassador.
  • They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

What they're saying: "Sincere appreciations to the host country US Government, Ambassador Linda and her team USUN, all security agencies for your relentless efforts, assistance and support extended to me. Thanks," Kyaw Moe Tun tweeted Friday, referring to the U.S. representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

  • "These defendants reached across borders and oceans in designing a violent plot against an international leader on United States soil," New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.

The big picture: Myanmar's military junta has repeatedly tried to remove Tun from the position, but the General Assembly has not accredited the person who the junta selected to replace Tun, according to AP.

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