UN, US Offer Support for Peaceful Protest Against Myanmar Military Regime

By The Irrawaddy 10 February 2021

The UN office in Myanmar and the US have expressed concerned about the military regime’s treatment of people peacefully protesting against the military coup, following a police crackdown on Tuesday.

Anti-coup protesters continued to demonstrate in opposition to the military regime in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw and other cities on Wednesday.

“I call on the security forces to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Ola Almgren, UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar.

“The use of disproportionate force against demonstrators is unacceptable,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

Myanmar’s armed forces on Feb. 1 seized power from the democratically elected government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) and detained its leaders, including President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar citizens have taken part in ongoing nationwide mass rallies against the military coup since Saturday. They have demonstrated in front of the United Nations office, the US Embassy and the Chinese Embassy in Yangon, calling for the restoration of democracy and the release of the detained leaders, and denouncing the military dictatorship.

On Tuesday, protesters defied the regime’s ban on gatherings of more than four people and participated in nationwide protests. The police fired water cannons at protesters in the capital Naypyitaw, as well as in Mandalay and other cities, injuring some demonstrators. In Naypyitaw, police turned their weapons on protesters, shooting and injuring at least six people, two of them seriously. Some 40 people were reportedly arrested in various places, and it is feared that more arrests and a violent police crackdown are imminent.

Also on Tuesday, the US reiterated its support for the Myanmar people’s demands to restore the democratically elected government ousted by the military on Feb. 1.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We’re of course very concerned about the military’s recent announcement restricting public gatherings.”

The spokesman said the US stands with the members of Parliament elected to office last year. The majority of the elected MPs are from the NLD.

Price added, “We stand with the people of Burma [Myanmar], support their right to assemble peacefully, including to protest peacefully in support of the democratically elected government, and the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, to receive, to impart information both online and offline.”

Since the coup, the US administration led by President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on the Myanmar military to relinquish power and to restore the elected government.

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