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UN meeting sought as Myanmar forces fire on anti-coup protests
Protesters react after tear gas is fired by police during a demonstration against the military coup in the northwestern town of Kale on March 2, 2021.
AFP/STR

UN meeting sought as Myanmar forces fire on anti-coup protests

(Agence France-Presse) - March 1, 2021 - 8:01am

YANGON, Myanmar — Britain has called for the UN Security Council to meet Friday on Myanmar, diplomatic sources told AFP, as security forces have steadily stepped up their use of violence against anti-coup demonstrators in the Southeast Asian nation.

Authorities fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again on Tuesday, leaving at least three people critically injured as international pressure has grown since the military's February 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN meeting would be behind closed doors at 1500 GMT under London's proposal, the sources said, as were the Council's discussions a day after the coup.

Soldiers and police have steadily stepped up their use of force, deploying tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds after weeks of mass protests.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country. AFP independently confirmed 11 deaths. 

Another rally turned violent Tuesday in the northwestern town of Kale, where security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.

'Tear gas and shooting'

"About 20 people were injured in a morning crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale," said a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. 

"Three... were hit by live rounds and are in a critical condition," he said.

Police had initially deployed tear gas and rubber bullets before doubling back with live rounds, he added.

As the violence escalates, Myanmar's military junta and the envoy sent by its toppled civilian government have launched contradictory claims over who represents the country at the United Nations.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun spectacularly broke with the military before the General Assembly on Friday in an emotional plea for help to restore ousted civilian leadership, which prompted the junta to announce his removal.

Both he and the junta now claim to represent the country at the body, with the UN saying it is evaluating what action to take on the competing claims..

"We will continue to oppose the military coup and we will continue to support the restoration of Burma's democratically elected civilian government," the State Department spokesman said.

The bloodshed on the ground in Myanmar came on the same day as a funeral in the commercial capital of Yangon for a student who died Sunday.

Mourners sang a revolutionary song as the coffin carrying Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing moved through a sea of thousands to an altar. 

"No mercy, just bullies — dead bodies are here and there," the mourners sang in unison as they flashed a three-finger salute that has become a symbol of opposition to the junta. 

Protests also continued in several neighbourhoods of Yangon on Tuesday, with demonstrators wearing hard hats and wielding improvised home-made shields. 

In San Chaung township hundreds of police came out in force. 

"They used tear gas and were shooting as well," said one resident.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested, charged and sentenced since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group, of which about 900 are still behind bars. 

But the real number is likely far higher — state-run media reported that on Sunday alone more than 1,300 people were arrested. 

State-broadcaster MRTV said late Tuesday that 511 people in detention had been released in Yangon.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 10 journalists are in jail and 26 have been arrested since the coup.

'Not acceptable'

The unrest came as foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc held a virtual meeting which included a Myanmar representative.

Some regional powers broke with diplomatic convention and issued unusually harsh rebukes of Myanmar's junta. 

"To use lethal force against civilians and unarmed demonstrators, I think it is just not acceptable," Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the BBC.

After the meeting, Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi expressed concern over rising violence and deaths as well as frustration over a lack of cooperation from the Myanmar regime.

"It takes two to tango," she said, calling for the restoration of democracy and the release of political detainees.

Philippines foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin said the first step should be the immediate release of Suu Kyi.

"The hurt of the small finger is felt by the whole body. Myanmar is not a small finger but a big part of the two hands that together make up the family of ASEAN 10," he said.

Observers are sceptical about what difference the bloc can make, pointing to its policies of non-interference and making decisions based on consensus.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI MYANMAR
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 11, 2021 - 1:22pm

Follow this thread for updates on the situation in Myanmar, where a coup may be happening after de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials have reportedly been detained by the military.

Photo: Military officers wearing facemasks who serve as members of Myanmar's parliament leave after a session at the Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) in Naypyidaw on March 10, 2020. AFP/Ye Aung Thu

May 11, 2021 - 1:22pm

Three Myanmar journalists have been arrested in Thailand after fleeing across the border to escape a crackdown by the military junta, their employer has said.

The trio were set to appear in court on Tuesday, their editor added, urging Thai authorities not to repatriate them to the coup-hit country.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering a mass uprising as large swathes of the population take to the streets to demand democracy. —  AFP

May 10, 2021 - 11:46am

One hundred days after the military seized power in Myanmar, the nun who pleaded for protesters on her knees in the street says the coup has cast a pall of fear and depression over the country.

The image of Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng kneeling in the dust, arms spread, begging police not to shoot "the children" went viral in March as an uprising swelled in Myanmar.

Today, the 45-year-old nun works in a clinic in Myanmar's northernmost Kachin state, tending to patients injured by security forces, sickened from stress, and even those who try to kill themselves.

"With the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and brutal actions of the military, there are more people who feel depressed and want to commit suicide," she told AFP.

"People are living in fear and they feel hopeless." 

On Tuesday, 100 days will have passed since the generals made their lightning power grab in the early morning of February 1, ousting and detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. — AFP

May 4, 2021 - 6:17pm

The Myanmar junta has charged a Japanese journalist under a "fake news" law, a report said Tuesday, in the latest blow to press freedom since the military seized power.

Freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi was arrested last month and charged on Monday — World Press Freedom Day — with spreading fake news, according to a report by Kyodo news agency.

He is one of 50 journalists currently held in Myanmar as part of the junta's crackdown on widespread protests against its February 1 coup.

The country has been in turmoil since civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's government was ousted, with more than 750 people killed as security forces struggle to quash near-daily demonstrations against their rule. — AFP

April 28, 2021 - 8:25pm

Myanmar's military launched air assaults for the second day in a row into rebel-held territory after gunfire was heard from neighboring Thailand, a Thai official said Wednesday, as fighting escalates along the border.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the junta ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup, its power grab angering much of its population.

The anti-junta movement has also garnered some support from some ethnic rebel groups, which controls territory along Myanmar's border regions.

The Karen National Union (KNU), one of the most prominent, has been among the junta's most vocal opponents — blasting the junta for violence against anti-coup protesters. 

Clashes with the military in KNU's territory along the eastern border have increased since Feb 1, with the junta deploying air assaults last month -- the first instance in Karen state in over 20 years. — AFP

April 26, 2021 - 5:28pm

Myanmar's junta again postponed court proceedings against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday her lawyers said, as they fight for permission to visit her 12 weeks after she was detained.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted the Nobel laureate in a February 1 coup, shunting the country back into junta rule after a brief experiment with democracy. 

Large swathes of the population have taken to the streets in protest, with security forces unleashing a brutal campaign to quell the massive uprising. 

Meanwhile Suu Kyi has been under house arrest, with the junta charging her under six cases — including for sedition and having unlicensed walkie-talkies. 

But movement on her case was once again delayed until May 10, her lawyer Min Min Soe said Monday after a hearing. — AFP

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