UN meeting sought on Myanmar as violence continues

YANGON (AFP) – Britain has called for the United Nations Security Council to meet on Friday on Myanmar as security forces have steadily become more violent against anti-coup demonstrators.

This came as state media reported that the authorities have released 511 people in detention.

Authorities fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again on Tuesday, leaving at least three people critically injured as international pressure has grown since the military’s February 1 ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN meeting would be behind closed doors under London’s proposal, diplomatic sources told AFP, as were the Council’s discussions a day after the coup.

Soldiers and police have steadily stepped up their use of force, deploying tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds after weeks of mass protests.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country. AFP independently confirmed 11 deaths.

Another rally turned violent Tuesday in the northwestern town of Kale, where security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.

Tear gas and shooting

“About 20 people were injured in a morning crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale,” said a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

“Three… were hit by live rounds and are in a critical condition,” he said.

Police had initially deployed tear gas and rubber bullets before doubling back with live rounds, he added.

As the violence escalates, Myanmar’s military junta and the envoy sent by its toppled civilian government have launched contradictory claims over who represents the country at the UN.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun spectacularly broke with the military before the General Assembly on Friday in an emotional plea for help to restore ousted civilian leadership, which prompted the junta to announce his removal.

Both he and the junta now claim to represent the country at the body, with the UN saying it is evaluating what action to take on the competing claims.

“We will continue to oppose the military coup and we will continue to support the restoration of Burma’s democratically elected civilian government,” the State Department spokesman said.

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