United Nations Security Council meets to discuss Myanmar crisis as pro-democracy activists hold fresh demonstrations against the military coup.
United Nations special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, has urged the UN Security Council to take action to stop the violence and restore democracy in the southeast Asian nation following a February 1 military coup.
“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,” she told the 15-member council in a closed meeting, according to a copy of her remarks seen by Reuters.
“There is an urgency for collective action. How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?” she said.
The envoy also demanded an end to the military’s “repression” of protesters, imploring the Security Council to act on the “desperate pleas” from the country.
“Your unity is needed more than ever on Myanmar,” special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener told a session on the crisis. “The repression must stop.”
She said of the people of Myanmar: “The hope they have placed in the United Nations and its membership is waning and I have heard directly the desperate pleas, from mothers, students and the elderly.”
Months-long protest wave
New protests against the coup in Myanmar have erupted on Friday, with demonstrators taking to the streets of Mandalay in defiance of the country’s military rulers.
Protesters representing a variety of groups marched along highways, holding placards and chanting slogans in the wake of the deadly coup in the Southeast Asian country.
Police opened fire in Mandalay, killing one person, witnesses and media said.
The young man was shot in the neck and died, media said.
Earlier in the day, a big crowd had marched peacefully through the city chanting: “The stone age is over, we’re not scared because you threaten us.”
The fresh protests come as Myanmar’s junta lost a tug of war over leadership of its UN mission in New York and the United States unveiled new sanctions targeting military conglomerates after the deaths of dozens of civilians protesting against last month’s coup.
With tussles going on over diplomatic loyalties overseas, pro-democracy activists held more demonstrations to oppose the ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Our federation will be on road to fight the military regime together with the people,” the All Burma Federation of Student Unions posted on social media late on Thursday.
YouTube removes five TV channels from platform
Meanwhile, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube removed five channels of Myanmar’s military-run television networks hosted on its platform.
“We have terminated a number of channels and removed several videos from YouTube in accordance with our community guidelines and applicable laws,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters news agency.
The channels taken down include the state network, MRTV, (Myanma Radio and Television), as well as the military-owned Myawaddy Media, MWD Variety and MWD Myanmar, YouTube said.
Police broke up rallies with tear gas and gunfire in several cities across Myanmar on Thursday, as protesters returned to the streets after the United Nations said 38 people had been killed on Wednesday in the bloodiest day of protests up to now.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet demanded the security forces halt what she called their “vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters.” Bachelet said more than 1,700 people had been arrested, including 29 journalists.
A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.
Junta’s UN pick quits
A clash over who represents Myanmar at the United Nations in New York was averted, for now, after the junta’s replacement quit and the Myanmar UN mission confirmed that Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun remained in the job.
The junta fired Kyaw Moe Tun on Saturday after he urged countries at the UN General Assembly to use “any means necessary” to reverse the coup.
In Washington, it was unclear whether Myanmar’s embassy was still representing the junta, after it issued a statement decrying the deaths of civilians protesting the coup and calling on authorities to “fully exercise utmost restraint.”
One diplomat in the embassy also resigned and at least three others said in posts on social media they were joining the civil disobedience movement against the military government.
“This is encouragement for us who are going to go out on streets tomorrow,” wrote Facebook user U Zay Yan, responding to the news.
Call for global sanctions
The UN human rights investigator on Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, urged the Security Council, which meets to discuss the situation on Friday, to impose a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions on the junta.
States should impose sanctions on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, now controlled by the military and its largest source of revenue, he said in a report.
‘Everything will be OK’
Myanmar activists continued to call for the release of Suu Kyi, 75, who was detained on the morning of the coup, and recognition of her November 8 election victory.
They also reject the junta’s promise to hold new elections at an unspecified date.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the election in a landslide but the military has refused to accept the result citing fraud. The election commission said the vote was fair.
Hundreds of people on Thursday attended the funeral of a 19-year-old woman who was shot dead at a protest while wearing a T-shirt that read “Everything will be OK.” After her death, the slogan went viral as a symbol of defiance.
New York fed freezes $1B
Sources told Reuters news agency that Myanmar’s military rulers attempted to move about $1 billion held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York days after seizing power. US officials froze those funds indefinitely, they said.
The US Commerce Department designated trading curbs on Myanmar’s Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and two military conglomerates that control swathes of the economy, with interests ranging from beer to real estate.
But the measures are expected to have limited impact as the entities are not major importers.
“A bigger impact would be to go after the financial assets of the military leaders of the coup,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official.
The European Union suspended support for development projects to avoid providing financial assistance to the military. The support in past years has involved more than $241 million in separate programmes.
Myanmar’s generals have long shrugged off outside pressure.
The United States has told China, which has declined to condemn the coup, that it expects it to play a constructive role. China has said stability is a top priority in its strategic neighbour.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies