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UN Security Council Calls for Release of Myanmar Detainees, End to Violence

Man flashes three-finger salute next to burning tires during a protest against the military coup, in Mandalay
Man flashes three-finger salute next to burning tires during a protest against the military coup, in Mandalay

The United Nations Security Council has repeated its call for the immediate release of all detainees in Myanmar, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and an end to violence.

In a statement late Thursday, the council expressed its deep concern for the “rapidly deteriorating situation” in Myanmar and strongly condemned the use of lethal force by security forces and police against peaceful pro-democracy protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including women and children.

The council also called on the military “to exercise utmost restraint” and on all sides “to refrain from violence.”

The Security Council also reiterated the need for full respect for human rights and the pursuit of “dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, was charged Thursday with breaking a secrets law that dates to the country’s colonial days, her lawyer said. It is the most serious of the charges leveled against her by the military since the Feb. 1 coup.

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, among other members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, have been detained since the coup. She has been accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols and having in her possession six handheld radios.

Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters on Thursday that Suu Kyi, three of her cabinet ministers and Sean Turnell, an Australian economic adviser, were charged a week ago under the secrets law. If convicted, they face up to 14 years in prison. Suu Kyi appeared via video for the Thursday hearing and appeared to be in good health, Min Min Soe, another of her lawyers, said.

A spokesperson for the junta did not answer telephone calls from Reuters seeking comment.

Anti-coup protesters were back on the streets Thursday, some symbolically burned copies of the country’s constitution as a group of deposed lawmakers announced a new civilian government to run counter to the ruling military junta. Reuters, citing media reports, said two more protesters were killed.

The rebel government, dubbed the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, is made up of members of deposed NLD government who were elected in November but not allowed to take their seats after the military detained Suu Kyi and replaced the civilian government.

The CRPH also announced a new federal constitution to replace the one drafted by the military in 2008, which brought democracy to Myanmar after five decades while still maintaining the army’s power and influence in any civilian government. The CRPH-drafted constitution was written to meet the longstanding demands of Myanmar’s regional ethnic groups, who have been fighting for decades for greater autonomy.