Security forces in Myanmar used force again on Saturday to disperse anti-coup protesters, a day after the UN special envoy urged the Security Council to take steps to quell the junta violence that this week left behind. some 50 peaceful protesters killed and dozens injured.
Further protests were reported on Saturday morning in the larger city of Yangon, where stun grenades and tear gas were used against protesters. On Wednesday, 18 people were reported to have died there.
Protests were also reported in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern Kachin state, Myeik, in the far south of the country, where police fired tear gas at students, and Dawei in the southeast, where tear gas was also used. Other locations included Kyaikto, in eastern Mon state, Loikaw, the capital of eastern Myanmar’s Kayah state, and Myingyan, a city where a protester was killed on Wednesday.
The escalation of violence has pressured the world community to act to contain the junta, which took power on February 1 by toppling the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under a strict military regime that led to isolation and international sanctions.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party led the return to civilian rule with a landslide electoral victory in 2015, and with an even greater margin of votes last year. A second five-year term would have been necessary last month, but instead she, President Win Myint and other members of her government were placed in military detention.
Large protests have occurred daily in many cities and towns. Security forces responded with increased use of deadly force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot dead last Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the UN Human Rights Office. More than 1,000 have been arrested, the independent Political Prisoner Assistance Association said.
UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said in her briefing for Friday’s closed-door Security Council meeting that the council’s unity and “energetic” action are critical “in pushing for a halt. violence and restoration of democratic institutions in Myanmar. “
“We must denounce the actions of the military,” he said. “It is critical that this council be resolute and consistent in alerting the security forces and strongly supporting the people of Myanmar, in support of the clear November election results.”
He reiterated a previous call to the international community not to “grant legitimacy or recognition to this regime that has been imposed by force and since then nothing but chaos has followed.”
The Security Council did not take any immediate action. Council diplomats said Britain circulated a draft presidential statement for consideration, one step short of a legally binding resolution.
Any kind of coordinated action at the UN will be difficult because two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, are likely to veto it.
Schraner Burgener earlier this week warned the Myanmar military that the nations of the world and the Security Council “could take enormous and energetic measures.”
“And the response was, ‘We are used to sanctions and we survived those sanctions in the past,'” he said. When he warned that Myanmar would be isolated, Schraner Burgener said that “the answer was: ‘We have to learn to walk with just a few friends.’
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called for the immediate protection of all Red Cross volunteers and health workers.
The statement came after surveillance camera video that was widely circulated on social media showed members of an ambulance team in Yangon being brutally beaten after police detained them on Wednesday.
“We express deep sadness that Myanmar Red Cross volunteers have been injured while providing life-saving first aid to injured people, in accordance with the fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Red Cross volunteers should never be targeted, “the federation said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism