UN demands restoration of democracy in Myanmar

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Anti-coup protesters flash the three-finger salute and chant slogan during the demonstration against the military coup in the rain at Pabedan township in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The United Nations Security Council on Friday again demanded the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the release of all detainees including Aung San Suu Kyi and strongly backed calls by Southeast Asian nations for an immediate cessation of violence and talks as a first step toward a solution following the Feb. 1 military coup.

The council’s press statement followed a briefing by the top U.N. envoy that the strong, united demand for democracy by the people of Myanmar who have been protesting since the coup has created “unexpected difficulties” for military leaders in consolidating power and risks bringing the administration of the nation to a standstill.

Christine Schraner Burgener said in remarks to the closed council meeting obtained by The Associated Press that her discussions in the region “compounded” her concern that the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating in all areas. She pointed to a resurgence of fighting in ethnic areas, more poor people losing jobs, civil servants refusing to work to protest the coup and a brewing crisis of families in and around the main city Yangon “pushed to the edge” for food, going into debt and trying to survive.

Security Council members “reiterated their deep concern at the situation in Myanmar following the declaration of the state of emergency imposed by the military on Feb. 1 and reiterated their support for Myanmar’s democratic transition.”

The council also reiterated its previous statements which include strongly condemning the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, calling for the restoration of democracy and release of detainees. Council members have also called on the military “to exercise utmost restraint” and “on all sides to refrain from violence,” and stressed “the need to fully respect human rights and to pursue dialogue and reconciliation.”

Schraner Burgener spoke by video from Bangkok where she returned after traveling to Jakarta to meet participants in the April 24 ministerial meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations known as ASEAN which includes Myanmar and was attended by the junta’s military commander, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

The U.N. envoy said she met the commander-in-chief on the ASEAN sidelines and they agreed “to keep details of the exchange discreet to allow for continued frank and open discussions,” but she assured the council she “amplified” on the statements its 15 members had approved.

Based on her meeting with Gen. Hlaing, Schraner Burgener told the council that on Thursday she again requested to visit Myanmar. Her previous requests have been turned down by the military, which said the time was not right.

 

 

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