United Nations calls for restoration of civilian rule in Myanmar as protests grow



Protesters rally outside the Russian embassy in Yangon on Friday – Getty Images AsiaPac/Hkun Lat

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Myanmar on the eighth day of nationwide protests calling on General Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power last week, to release Mrs Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.

At least three people were wounded when police fired rubber bullets to disperse supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi protesting against the country’s military coup.

The latest protests came as the United Nations called for the immediate restoration of civilian rule and said more than 350 people, including officials, activists and monks, have been arrested in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 coup, including some who face criminal charges on “dubious grounds”.

Thomas Andrews, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, told a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council the there were “growing reports, photographic evidence” that the military authorities had used live ammunition against protesters in violation of international law.

He said the UN Security Council should consider sanctions but said any such measures should be carefully targeted against individuals to avoid hurting ordinary Burmese.

The 47-member council unanimously passed a British and EU resolution calling for Ms Suu Kyi’s release and access for a UN monitors to the country, although China, Russia and Myanmar said they were “disassociating” themselves from it.

Myint Thu, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, said the country would continue to cooperate with the United Nations and uphold international human rights treaties.

A demonstrator is detained by police officers during a protest against the military coup in Mawlamyine - THAN LWIN TIMES/via REUTERS

A demonstrator is detained by police officers during a protest against the military coup in Mawlamyine – THAN LWIN TIMES/via REUTERS

Friday’s protests were the biggest the junta has faced so far.

They were mostly peaceful, but clashes were reported between police a crowd of tens of thousands in the southeastern city of Mawlamyin. Three people were wounded when police fired rubber bullets.

Earlier on Friday the military authorities amnestied 23000 prisoners, in a step they said would help establish “a new democratic state with peace, development and discipline” and would “please the public”.

Meanwhile, elected parliamentarians and more than 50 businesses in Myanmar criticised a new cyber security laws proposed by the junta, saying they would contravene human rights, violate data privacy and curtail innovation.

Some of the world’s biggest internet companies and civil society organisations have also raised alarm over the draft laws, which were circulated to telecoms companies this week after the army seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.

The proposals have been described by opposition activists as an attempt to shutdown internet freedoms and intimidate would-be protesters. The government has not commented on the plan.


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