Myanmar protests continue as UN urged to hear ‘desperate appeals’ | News of the protests
Myanmar security forces used tear gas and stun grenades on Saturday to disperse protesters in the Yangon shopping center, just hours after a United Nations envoy called on the Security Council to heed the “appeals. desperate ”of the nation and to take immediate action to restore democracy.
The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since a February 1 coup removed the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking mass protests in cities across the country, calling for the restoration of civil administration.
Protesters have faced increasingly brutal repression with a death toll of more than 50 since the coup, according to the UN.
Protesters called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and respect for the November election, which her party won in a landslide, but which the military rejected.
“Our revolution must win,” chanted protesters in Loikaw on Saturday, who included officials such as teachers in their green and white uniforms.
Vital sectors of the country have been crippled by an ongoing “civil disobedience movement” – a campaign urging officials to boycott work under a military government.
The impact has been felt at all levels of the national infrastructure, with hospitals closed, ministerial offices empty and banks unable to function.
State media reported on Saturday that if officials continue to boycott the work, “they will be sacked” with immediate effect from March 8.
But protesters in Myanmar’s Yangon Mall continued to defy authorities, especially rallying in San Chaung – a once bustling town with cafes, restaurants and bars that has become a hotspot for unrest.
Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades in the morning, dispersing protesters and bulldozing their makeshift barricades.
Activist Maung Saungkha said the movement will persist – even if security forces continue to step up enforcement tactics – as many remember the crackdown under the previous military government.
“In our past revolutions, we have never won … this time we have to fight to win,” he told AFP news agency.
“We have to fight with the younger generation to achieve victory.”
The military said it was held back in stopping the protests, but said it would not allow them to threaten stability.
Separately on Saturday, several hundred people gathered in Sydney, Australia, to protest the coup, chanting and raising three fingers, a salute that has come to symbolize solidarity and resistance across Myanmar.
“We would like to urge the Australian government to work closely with the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and the EU and take strong action against these military dictators in Myanmar,” said the organizer of the Thein Moe Win protest.
Myanmar authorities have asked India to return eight police officers who have sought refuge across the border to avoid receiving orders from the military, an official from northeast India said on Saturday. .
India’s foreign ministry responded to a request for comment from Reuters news agency by referring to a statement made at a press briefing on Friday that the ministry was “still checking the facts.”
‘The repression must stop’
The United Nations Security Council heard on Friday from the UN special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, who warned against any move to grant legitimacy to the military government.
“The hope they have placed in the United Nations and its members is diminishing and I have heard the desperate appeals first hand – from mothers, students and the elderly,” she said.
“Your unity is needed more than ever in Myanmar… The repression must end.”
But diplomats said the Security Council was unlikely to approve international measures against the military government, and the session ended without any statement.
The condemnation against the Myanmar military was largely unanimous, but China’s veto power is still seen as a major obstacle to achieving consensus.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said his country did not want to see instability in Myanmar.
But “the messages and actions of the international community should prompt the parties in Myanmar to overcome differences and resolve problems,” he told reporters.
The United States and some other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the military government, and UN independent human rights investigator on Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has called for a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions.
The military seized power over allegations of fraud in last year’s election that were rejected by the electoral commission. He has promised to hold a new election on an unspecified date.
The plan is being rejected by protesters and by a group representing lawmakers elected in the last election which has started making statements on behalf of a rival civilian administration.
On Friday, he listed four demands – the end of the military government, the release of detainees, democracy and the abolition of the 2008 constitution that left significant political representation and control in the hands of the military.
Armed ethnic groups
Tony Cheng, from Al Jazeera, who reports from Bangkok in neighboring Thailand, said some Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups have spoken out in support of the protesters and could pose a threat to the military’s attempt to seize power.
“One place where security forces did not use force to quell protesters was in northern Shan State, in the town of Lashio, where a very large crowd came out around 9 am.
“Yesterday the TNLA, which is an insurgent group largely representing an ethnic minority in this region, came out near the town and made it clear that it was supporting the protesters.
“We have seen this in other places where soldiers from the Karenni ethnic group came to support the demonstrators,” Cheng said.
Maung Zarni, a London-based Burmese human rights activist, told Al Jazeera that the involvement of these groups reflected a popular desire to have some sort of protection from the military.
“When it comes to these ethnic organizations, there is a radical reversal on the part of the majority of the Burmese public who have been brainwashed for decades to see them as insurgents,” he said.
“So now the reversal is that the public sees the national armed forces … as mere terrorists and insurgents, and wants to have a federated army of different armed ethnic organizations.”