Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council issued a statement on Thursday in strong support of democracy in Myanmar, calling for those arrested earlier this week in a military coup to be released.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's civilian leader, was arrested along with other politicians and activists by the military known as the Tatmadaw on Monday when it seized control of the government by declaring a nationwide state of emergency.
The military said the state of emergency was called over alleged irregularities in November's parliamentary elections in which Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy Party secured a landslide victory.
The Security Council said it expressed "deep concern" over the emergency declaration and the "arbitrary detention" of Suu Kyi and the others.
"The members of the Security Council emphasized the need for the continued support of democratic transition in Myanmar," the statement said. "They stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law."
The U.N.'s most powerful body also said it calls for the two sides to pursue dialogue and reconciliation "in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar."
It also expressed concerns over reports of restrictions to civil society, including those affecting Internet access, while reiterating its support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its statement issued on Monday calling for Myanmar to adhere to the principles of democracy.
"The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar," the Security Council said
Several global powers have expressed condemnation for the military coup, including the United States and the European Union, but the Thursday statement from the Security Council is its first official comment on the situation after the 15-member body failed to agree to one on Tuesday after hearing from Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, who said she "strongly" condemns the military incursion.
Following the meeting, Barbara Woodward, this month's council president and the ambassador to the council from Britain, the nation that drafted the statement, told reporters that there were disagreements between member states, but she expressed hope "we'll be able to speak with one voice."
China has taken a subdued stance toward the situation with Xinhua news organization describing the coup as "a major cabinet reshuffle" and its foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stating on Monday that China was aware of what happened in Myanmar and was "learning more information on the situation."
"China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar," he said. "We hope that all parties in Myanmar will properly handle their differences,"
After it was revealed the council was unable to agree to a statement the following day, Wang said during a regular press briefing that China was "baffled and shocked" that the information about the negations was "leaked" to the public.
"This is not how the Security Council runs its day-to-day work, nor will it be conducive to the solidarity of and mutual trust between Security Council members," he said.
Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, said the Security Council statement provided "some relief" following the negotiations but that it will be meaningful if not "followed by formal action."
"It is crucial the council listens to communities most at risk in Myanmar, who have been clear from the beginning that targeted sanctions on the military and military-owned companies, an arms embargo and efforts to hold the military accountable are the concrete actions that international community must take to address this emergency," Radhakrishnan said in a statement on Thursday.
Following the military seizure on Monday, Suu Kyi has been charged with possession of illegal radios at her home, and could face up to two years in prison.