UN envoy calls for urgent action to reverse Myanmar coup

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Anti-coup protesters hold up images of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they gather in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday, Mar. 5, 2021. Demonstrators defy growing violence by security forces and stage more anti-coup protests ahead of a special U.N. Security Council meeting on the country’s political crisis. (AP Photo)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar called Friday for urgent Security Council action to reverse Myanmar’s military coup, saying about 50 peaceful protesters were killed in the military’s worst crackdowns this week and scores more were seriously injured.

Christine Schraner Burgener said in her briefing to a closed council meeting obtained by The Associated Press that council unity and “robust” action is critical “in pushing for a stop to the violence and the restoration of Myanmar’s democratic institutions.”

“We must denounce the actions by the military,” she said. “It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.”

The Feb. 1 military coup ousted the government of Aung San Suu Kyi after her National League for Democracy Party won 82% of the vote in November elections. The military contends there was ballot fraud, but the electoral commission upheld the results.

Schraner Burgener said a peaceful solution requires the immediate release of Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

She reiterated an earlier appeal to the international community not to “lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime that has been forcefully imposed,” stressing that “nothing but chaos has since followed.”

The U.N. has received confirmed reports that many of those who died were killed by live ammunition, she said.

“There are visual recordings of the military snipers in shooting positions aiming at unarmed protesters, as well as indiscriminate shooting into the crowds by military and police personnel, in various parts of Myanmar,” she said.

As of March 2, Schraner Burgener said the U.N. human rights office in Geneva “is aware of around 1,000 people who are either known to be in detention or unaccounted for after having been arbitrarily detained since the coup.”

“Journalists are increasingly targeted, including specific assaults aimed at them at the protest scenes,” she said. Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw, whose dramatic arrest by police using a chokehold before handcuffing him was captured on video, is among them.

Schraner Burgener urged council members to hear “the voices of the people of Myanmar” and support Kyaw Moe Tun, the country’s U.N. ambassador who was terminated by the military after denouncing the coup in a dramatic speech to the General Assembly. The military appointed his deputy, who resigned a day later and Tun has said he remains Myanmar’s permanent representative to the U.N.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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