UN envoy demands ‘robust’ action against military in Myanmar

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United Nations Human Rights envoy going for Myanmar Burma

The UN special envoy for Myanmar has called for urgent Security Council action to reverse the military coup, saying about 50 peaceful protesters had been 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 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 February 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.

Ms Schraner Burgener said a peaceful solution requires the immediate release of Ms 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 UN 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, Ms Schraner Burgener said the UN 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.

Ms Schraner Burgener urged council members to hear “the voices of the people of Myanmar” and support Kyaw Moe Tun, the country’s UN ambassador who was terminated by the military after denouncing the coup in a dramatic speech to the General Assembly.

She was speaking after YouTube removed five channels run by Myanmar’s military for violating guidelines, and said it is watching for any further content that might violate its rules.

The decision followed Facebook’s earlier announcement that it had removed all Myanmar military-linked pages from its site and from Instagram, which it owns.

The escalation of violence by security forces has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta.

Large protests against military rule have occurred daily in many cities and towns, and security forces escalated their crackdown this week with greater use of lethal force and mass arrests.

At least 18 protesters were shot dead on Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

Protests continued in the country’s biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, and elsewhere on Friday, and were again met with force by police. Gunfire was heard in some areas, and 26-year-old Zaw Myo was shot dead in Mandalay while he and other residents tried to protect a march by a group of engineers.

Many cases of targeted brutality have been captured in photos and videos that have circulated on social media. Videos have showed security forces shooting people at point-blank range and chasing and savagely beating demonstrators.

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