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Protesters oppose Myanmar troops as the United Nations calls for action.

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Protesters oppose Myanmar troops as the United Nations calls for action.

 

Demonstrators defied rising security forces brutality by staging more anti-coup protests on Friday, while the United Nations special envoy for Myanmar called for immediate Security Council intervention, claiming that the military’s worst crackdowns this week killed about 50 unarmed demonstrators and wounded dozens more.

The junta’s escalation of violence has placed pressure on the international community to intervene to curb the junta, which seized power on Feb. 1 by deposing Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

In many cities and towns, large demonstrations against military rule have occurred on a regular basis. Security forces intensified their crackdown, using more lethal force and making mass arrests. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 18 demonstrators were shot and killed on Sunday and 38 on Wednesday. According to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, over 1,000 people have been detained.

Protests in Yangon and Mandalay, as well as elsewhere, continued on Friday. Police retaliated with force, and gunshots could be heard. Zaw Myo, a 26-year-old Mandalay native, was fatally shot while attempting to defend a march by a group of engineers.
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In her briefing to a closed Security Council meeting, U.N. special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said that council solidarity and “robust” intervention are crucial “in calling for a halt to the violence and the restoration of Myanmar’s democratic institutions.”

“We must condemn military actions,” she said in her briefing, which was issued by the United Nations. “It is critical that this council be steadfast and consistent in placing the security forces on notice and standing firmly with Myanmar’s people in favor of the November election results.”

Schraner Burgener reaffirmed an earlier call for the international community not to “lend legitimacy or prestige to this dictatorship that was implemented forcibly and has since resulted in nothing but chaos.”

She urged council members to listen to “the voices of Myanmar’s people” and support Kyaw Moe Tun, the country’s U.N. ambassador, who was fired by the military after a dramatic speech to the General Assembly denouncing the coup. Tun has confirmed that he is Myanmar’s permanent representative to the United Nations, despite the military appointing his replacement, who resigned a day later.

The Security Council took no action right away. According to diplomats at the United Nations Security Council, Britain circulated a draft presidential statement for consideration, which is a step below a legally binding resolution.

Since two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, are likely to veto any concerted action at the UN, it will be difficult.

Schraner Burgener, a long-serving Swiss diplomat, expressed her desire to visit Myanmar and use her “nice offices” to help find a peaceful solution through dialogue.

Meanwhile, the US State Department announced on Friday that the government has taken steps to prevent Myanmar’s military from illegally accessing more than $1 billion in US-held Myanmar government funds.

In addition, YouTube has suspended five Myanmar military-run channels for breaching its rules, and it has warned that it will be on the lookout for any future violations. It had previously shut down hundreds of outlets as part of an inquiry into material posted as part of a concerted influence campaign.

YouTube’s decision comes after Facebook announced earlier this week that it had deleted all Myanmar military-related pages from its website and Instagram, which it owns.

Several instances of targeted violence by security forces in the streets have been documented in images and videos that have gone viral on social media. Security forces have been seen shooting protesters at point blank range and chasing down and savagely beating protestors in videos.

The photos were described as appalling by the United States, the United Nations human rights chief said it was time to “end the military’s stranglehold on democracy in Myanmar,” and Tom Andrews, the world body’s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, urged Security Council members to watch the videos.

While police are responsible for many abuses, military forces, which have a long history of violent counterinsurgency tactics and human rights violations, are being deployed in Myanmar’s cities.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that members of the army’s 77th Light Infantry Division were also sent to the streets in 2007 to disperse anti-junta rallies, firing on demonstrators and ramming them with vehicles.

In Mandalay, the 99th Light Infantry Division has also been deployed. It is notorious for its counterinsurgency campaigns against ethnic minorities, including leading the response that resulted in a brutal crackdown that forced over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. In 2016 and early 2017, it was also accused of war crimes in Shan state, another ethnic minority region.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a group of barred lawmakers who claim to be the country’s rightful leaders urged the Security Council to help end the bloodshed and restore the ousted government. Outside parties were urged to assist in preventing human rights abuses, including sanctions against military officials and military-linked companies, a complete weapons embargo, and punishments for atrocity perpetrators, according to the letter.

Dr. Sasa, who only goes by one name, signed the letter on behalf of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Myanmar’s Parliament, which the military has prevented from convening. Instead of the junta, the lawmakers want foreign countries and international organisations to accept them.

Schraner Burgener said earlier this week that the world’s nations and the Security Council “could take massive, strong steps” against Myanmar’s army.

“And the response was, ‘We’re used to sanctions, and we’ve survived them before,’” she said. “The response was, ‘We have to learn to walk with just a few friends,’” Schraner Burgener said when she cautioned that Myanmar would become isolated.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has called for an end to the violence in Myanmar and the beginning of talks on a negotiated settlement.

A tradition of working by consensus and a reluctance to intervene in each other’s internal affairs prevents the 10-member regional community, which includes Myanmar, from taking serious action.

Singapore, on the other hand, was vocal in its criticism of Myanmar’s coup on Friday.

“Any country’s armed forces turning against its own citizens is the height of national shame,” Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament.

However, he cautioned that the solution advocated by some Western countries of imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s generals would be ineffective.

“Despite our best efforts and sincere aspirations for reconciliation, the keys to peace inevitably reside in Myanmar. And there’s a limit on how much external pressure can be applied,” he said.

The use of violence against the people of Myanmar must end, according to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“There should be no more human lives lost. We condemn the violent suppression of protests by the military and the police forces and strongly call for the immediate release of all those detained including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi,” he said.

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