United Nations leaders on Sunday condemned the Myanmar coup regime's crackdown on peaceful protesters—which killed at least 18 people—in cities across the Southeast Asian nation over the weekend as demonstrators defiantly took to the streets again on Monday to demand a return to civilian rule.
"The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy."
—Ravina Shamdasani, OHCHR
In a Sunday statement, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres, said the U.N. chief "strongly condemned" the regime's repression and "is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries."
"The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable," Dujarric added. "The secretary-general urges the international community to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression."
At least 18 people were killed & 30 wounded in #Myanmar today. “We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar & call on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protestors," says spox Ravina Shamdasani https://t.co/nqhVYtXZfv pic.twitter.com/sAvKPwR4F7
— UN Human Rights Asia (@OHCHRAsia) February 28, 2021
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Sunday that "the people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy."
"These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression," Shamdasani continued, adding that "use of lethal force against nonviolent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms."
"The international community must stand in solidarity with the protestors and all those seeking a return to democracy in Myanmar," Shamdasani added.
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Tom Andrews, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, issued a statement Sunday outlining a series of steps he said member nations of the world body could take to oppose the coup regime and its crackdown.
As the junta ratchets up its brutal attacks against peaceful protesters in Myanmar, the world must ratchet up its response. Words of condemnation are welcome but insufficient. We must act. I'm releasing a statement today w options for UN member states & the UN Security Council. pic.twitter.com/q34vaaoYky
— UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RapporteurUn) February 28, 2021
World leaders also condemned the crackdown, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeting Sunday that the United States "condemn[s] the Burmese security forces' abhorrent violence against the people of Burma [and] will continue to promote accountability for those responsible."
The Associated Press reports police in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, fired tear gas at protesters who returned to the streets Monday to protest the February 1 military coup. This, a day after security forces opened fire on demonstrators with live ammunition and "less-lethal" projectiles, killing at least 18 people, and wounding at least 30 others.
According to the AP, at least five people were killed in Yangon on Sunday, while another five demonstrators were killed in the small southeastern city of Dawei. An AP journalist, Thein Zaw, was among the 1,000 people reportedly arrested over the weekend.
Myanmar's ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with two more "crimes"—including publishing information that causes "fear or alarm"—by the coup regime on Monday, Reuters reports.
Suu Kyi—a Nobel laureate who defended Myanmar's government and military against accusations of genocide of the country's Rohingya minority—was arrested on the first day of the coup under the pretext of violating import-export laws for having walkie-talkies in her home.