UN calls for return to democracy in Myanmar, end to violence

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The UN Security Council has again demanded the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the release of all detainees including Aung San Suu Kyi.

The body has also strongly backed calls by south-east Asian nations for an immediate cessation of violence and the commencement of talks as a first step towards a solution following the February 1 military coup.

The council’s press statement followed a briefing in which the UN’s senior envoy on Myanmar said the demand for democracy by the country’s people – who have been protesting since the coup – had created “unexpected difficulties” for military leaders in consolidating power, and risked bringing 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 was deteriorating in all areas.

Protesters in Yangon on Friday. Hundreds of people have been killed in demonstrations against the military coup (Vincent Thian/AP)

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 February 1 and reiterated their support for Myanmar’s democratic transition”.

The council also reiterated its previous statements which included 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”.

Indonesia ASEAN
An activist holds up a defaced portrait of Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, during a rally in Jakarta against the military coup (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

The UN 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 General Hlaing, Ms 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.

“In the past three years, I have built constructive relations and confidence with key actors in Myanmar and this would allow me to get straight to substantive exchanges on how the current deadlock could be resolved, if given access to the country,” she said. “My presence could also help calm tensions.”

The Security Council expressed hope that Ms Schraner Burgener would visit Myanmar “as soon as possible”.

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