UN Security Council condemns Myanmar violence

March 11, 2021 World
The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned violence against Myanmar protesters and called on the army showing restraint, but didn't denounce the military takeover as a coup or threaten further action because of opposition from China and Russia.

A lot more than 60 protesters have already been killed plus some 2,000 people have been detained by security forces because the Feb 1 coup against elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group said.

On Wednesday, security forces firing teargas and rubber bullets trapped a huge selection of anti-junta protesters late in to the night in two districts of Yangon.

Some protesters who managed to evade blockades create by police in surrounding streets told of scores of arrests and said that some of these who got caught were beaten.

In a bid to improve strain on the military as it continues its crackdown, the US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two children of military leader Min Aung Hlaing and six companies they control.

“The indiscriminate violence by Burma’s security forces against calm protesters is unacceptable,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki.

Campaign group Justice for Myanmar said in January that Min Aung Hlaing, who has been commander in chief since 2011, had “abused his capacity to benefit his family, who have profited from their usage of state resources and the military’s total impunity.”

The UK can be exploring fresh sanctions, foreign minister Dominic Raab said in a tweet.

In New York, the United Nations Security Council said in a statement that it “strongly condemns the violence against peaceful protesters, including against women, youth and children.

“The council demands the military to exercise utmost restraint and emphasises that it's following situation closely.”

But language that could have condemned the coup and threatened possible further action was taken off the British-drafted text, because of opposition by China, Russia, India and Vietnam.

A junta spokesman didn't respond to a obtain comment. The military has brushed off condemnation of its actions, since it has in past periods of army rule when outbreaks of protest were forcibly repressed.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped the Security Council statement would push the military to recognize it “is completely essential” that prisoners are released and that the results of a November election are respected.

The army has justified the coup by saying that the election, won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, was marred by fraud - an assertion rejected by the electoral commission. The junta has promised a fresh election, but hasn't said when.

Guterres acknowledged that Myanmar was not a “perfect democracy” prior to the coup.

“It was still heavily under military control in many aspects, making this coup even more difficult to understand, especially the accusations of electoral fraud by those that were largely in charge of the united states,” he said.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

State tv MRTV announced arrest warrants against some of the best-known youth protest leaders and showed an image of 29 wanted protesters. The protesters have already been calling for international protection and action against the junta.

On Wednesday, police stormed a compound in Yangon housing railway staff and surrounded a huge selection of protesters in North Okkalapa district, in another the main city. A lot more than 100 people were arrested at both sites, witnesses said.

Many of the railway staff are part of a civil disobedience movement that has crippled government business and included strikes at banks, factories and shops.

Police and the army didn't react to requests for comment.

One youth said in a note to Reuters that other protesters have been beaten and slapped. He escaped by hiding in a sizable washer, he said.

“Tomorrow I will keep protesting. I will not stop. The goal is very clear that we want democracy. We wish our elected government back,” he said, not wanting his name published.

In the central towns of Mingyan and Monywa, persons defied night curfew orders to carry candlelight vigils.

One protester told Reuters from the southern coastal town of Myeik that he previously been brought to Myeik Air Base and beaten with belts, chains, bamboo sticks and batons.

“The soldiers said, ‘This is the hell room, why don’t you guys have a taste?’” he said, declining to give his name for concern with reprisals. Reuters was unable to contact police in the city or the air base for comment.

Some police have refused orders to fire on unarmed protesters and also have fled to neighbouring India, according to an interview with one officer and classified Indian police documents.

An Israeli-Canadian lobbyist hired by Myanmar’s junta will be paid $2 million to “help out with explaining the real situation” of the coup to the United States and other countries, documents filed with the US government show.

Ari Ben-Menashe told Reuters on Saturday his task was to convince Washington that Myanmar’s generals wished to move closer to the West and away from China. He said they wanted to resettle Rohingya Muslims who fled a 2017 assault for which the UN has accused the military of overseeing a genocide.

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