U.N. envoy urges Security Council to unite in support of Myanmar democracy

Soldiers stand guard at City Hall in Yangon after a Military Coup in Myanmar on Tuesday. The military has detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo by Xiao Long/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/af399cd751a3cbb9865f97dfea0ea0bc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Soldiers stand guard at City Hall in Yangon after a Military Coup in Myanmar on Tuesday. The military has detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo by Xiao Long/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A top United Nations official urged the Security Council on Tuesday to unite in support of Myanmar's democracy during an emergency meeting held a day after the military seized control of the government and arrested its leaders in a coup.

Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, briefed ambassadors of the 15-member council during a closed-door meeting and called on them to unite in support of Myanmar's government while condemning the military's power seizure as unconstitutional and illegal.


"I strongly condemn the recent steps taken by the military and urge all of you to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar," she said, according to a release of the meeting from the United Nations.

The Security Council was convened to examine and discuss a response to the military coup in Myanmar that seized leader Aung San Suu Kyi and many other top government officials.


The council, however, will continue discussions on a statement drafted by Britain in condemnation of the coup after failing to agree in consensus.

Barbara Woodward, Britain's ambassador to the council and its president for February, told reporters after the meeting there were disagreements between member states on the statement without elaborating.

"I certainly hope that we'll be able to speak with one voice," she said.

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Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights law organization, chastized the council for failing to agree on a statement.

"The council's paralysis on Myanmar is unacceptable and must be dismantled," she said in an emailed statement, while calling on world leaders to take independent action.

"Targeted sanctions, arms embargoes and economic divestment are just some actions that must be considered" she said. "The time has passed for failed strategies promoting 'stability' and quiet diplomacy over accountability and justice."

The Myanmar military launched its takeover on Monday, believing Suu Kyi was illegitimately re-elected in a landslide in November despite domestic election observers stating in a January statement that "the elections were credible and reflected the will of the majority voters."

It was the second election to be held in Myanmar since it began moving away from a military dictatorship to a democracy. It's first election was held in 2015, with Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy Party winning in 390 seats, forming its first civilian government in half a century.


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that she had serious concerns about the military takeover and what it could mean for future democracy in the Asian nation.

"Given the security presence on the streets in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, as well as in other cities, there are deep fears of a violent crackdown on dissenting voices," Bachelet said in a statement.

"I remind the military leadership that Myanmar is bound by international human rights law, including to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force."

The takeover was also condemned Monday by U.S. President Joe Biden.

China and other ally nations have in the past discouraged the Security Council from imposing sanctions against Myanmar.

On Monday, China's state-run Xinhua news organization called to the coup "a major cabinet reshuffle."

Myanmar has been the subject of discussion in the Security Council in the recent past, for its treatment of the country's minority Rohingya Muslim population by government forces.

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