Burma police move in to stop protests, envoy calls on UN to intervene in coup

Police in Burma took action on Saturday (Feb. 27) to prevent a rally by opponents of the military government. Earlier in the day, Myanmar’s envoy to the United Nations urged the U.N. to use “all necessary means” to stop the Feb. 1 coup.

The Burmese military seized power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and many leading members of her party. In the November election, her National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a landslide. The military, for its part, staged a coup, citing massive election fraud.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s whereabouts are increasingly uncertain. She was transferred from Home detention to an undisclosed location this week, independent media outlet Myanmar Now said on Friday, citing officials from her party, the NLD.

The coup brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets. The junta has been condemned by the West, with some countries imposing limited sanctions.

More protests had been planned for Saturday, but police were out early in the main city of Yangon and elsewhere, deploying a heavy police presence at sites where protests usually take place and detaining people as they began to gather, witnesses said.

Witnesses said at least two media workers were detained. Another media worker, who asked not to be named, said, “They came to arrest me too, but I escaped.”

The previous day, police used rubber bullets, stun grenades and fired into the air in Yangon, the second city of Mandalay, Naypyidaw and other towns, injuring several people.

At the UN General Assembly, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, said he was speaking on behalf of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and called on the UN to “take all necessary means to take action against the Myanmar military to provide security for the people.”

Kyaw Moe Tun said, “We need strong action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, stop the oppression of innocent people …… and restore democracy.”

Kyaw Maung Tun became somewhat emotional as he read a statement issued by a group of elected officials he represented whom he called the legitimate government. He ended his speech in Burmese. He raised his three fingers in salute to the pro-democracy protesters and declared, “Our cause will prevail.”

Anti-coup activists hailed Mo Kyaw Tun as a hero, and social media was full of words of gratitude for him.

U.N. Special Envoy to Burma Christine Schraner Burgener urged the United Nations to send a collective “clear signal in support of democracy” and told the General Assembly that no country should recognize or legitimize the junta.

The Chinese envoy did not criticize the coup and said the situation was an “internal matter” for Myanmar, saying it supported the Southeast Asian country’s diplomacy, which protesters feared would give credibility to the ruling generals.

Singapore said the violence against unarmed civilians was inexcusable.

Khin Maung Zaw, Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer, told Reuters he had been told by the NLD that Aung San Suu Kyi had moved out of her home in the capital Naypyidaw, but could not confirm it.

The lawyer said he did not have access to Aung San Suu Kyi before the hearing next Monday. “I am worried about losing access to justice and seeking legal counsel,” he said.

Protesters have been demanding the release of 75-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi and recognition of last year’s election results.