Myanmar violence escalates and calls for diplomatic intervention

Calls for diplomatic intervention in Myanmar grew after the UN said the military killed at least 38 people on the bloodiest day of violence since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government on last month.

In Yangon, the country’s largest city, security forces shot dead six people on Wednesday. Widespread online camera footage shows police arresting three medical first responders and beating them with their guns.

In Mandalay, Myanmar’s second city, Kyal Sin, a 19-year-old woman known as “Angel”, died after being shot in the head.

The UK on Friday called for a UN Security Council meeting on Myanmar.

“The systematic brutality of the military junta is once again horribly exposed across Myanmar”, Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar written on twitter. “I urge members of the UN Security Council to view photos / videos of the shocking violence unleashed on peaceful protesters before meeting behind closed doors on Friday.”

Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department, mentionned Washington was “appalled and appalled” by what he called “horrific violence.”

The increasing use of violence General Min Aung Hlaing’s military regime has led its opponents to label the protests a “revolution” and many have given up hope that the international community will intervene.

“The outside world will wait and see,” Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a protest leader and activist, told the Financial Times. “They forget that injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

A former youth television presenter, she donned a headset last month to join strikes and nationwide protests that have drawn hundreds of thousands of people and crippled the country’s economy.

But as the regime responded by stepping up the crackdown this week, huge crowds thinned and diplomatic efforts to defuse the conflict gathered pace.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has a principle of “non-interference” in the affairs of members, held its first virtual meeting on Tuesday with a representative of the junta. ASEAN has yet to officially recognize the military regime as the official government of Myanmar and called on the security forces to “exercise the utmost restraint” and urged “communications and dialogue” in the country.

Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia have also called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

Protesters attend the funeral of Kyal Sin, a 19-year-old protester killed on Wednesday © Reuters

Analysts, however, had little hope that the regional group could find a solution.

“The problem for ASEAN is that the Myanmar armed forces have lowered the bar so low – with no leeway – with their naked takeover after losing another election in a landslide,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand referring to a ballot in november. “The Burmese junta does not claim popular legitimacy, only a brutal takeover that has turned the entire population against it.”

The remnants of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party took steps to form a Interim government. Most of the party’s top leaders were among some 1,500 people arrested after the coup, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (Burma), a human rights group.

The Committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw appointed its four acting first “ministers” this week.

Kyaw Moe TunMyanmar’s permanent representative to the UN was sacked by the junta after delivering a speech in which he urged the world to use “all means necessary” to reverse the coup. The regime has appointed its deputy Tin Maung Naing as its replacement, but who represents the country in the international forum is now in dispute.

Some protesters want the UN to invoke its principle of responsibility to protect, intended to end atrocities, which the Security Council invoked to authorize military intervention against Muammer Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.

Most experts thought it was unlikely, and some in Myanmar criticized the international community – especially Western governments – for using rhetoric which misleads the demonstrators.

“They think the intervention is on the table now, and it clearly isn’t,” said Aye Min Thant, 28, a former Reuters reporter based in Yangon. “There is no world in which the UN or anyone sends boots on the ground, and yet that is what some people in Myanmar think.

Follow John Reed on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

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