The United Nations called for the release of detainees and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar after the army seized power, leading a wave of international condemnation of the coup.
Myanmar’s military seized power on Monday, detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with other senior officials of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in the November elections. .
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has condemned the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other political leaders and expressed “grave concern” over the transfer of power to the military.
“These developments represent a blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” read a statement by Guterres spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. The UN Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in Myanmar.
The November elections gave Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party a strong mandate, the statement added.
“The Secretary-General urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and to adhere to democratic standards, with any dispute resolved through peaceful dialogue.”
The UN fears the coup may worsen the plight of some 600,000 Rohingya Muslims in the country, Dujarric said Monday. A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state prompted more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, where they are still stranded in refugee camps. The UN and Western states have accused Myanmar’s military of ethnic cleansing, which it has denied.
“There are around 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined in camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to health and education services. basic, ”Dujarric told reporters.
“So we are concerned that events will make the situation worse for them,” he said.
The 15-member UN Security Council plans to discuss Myanmar in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, diplomats said.
“We want to deal with the long-term threats to peace and security, of course, in close cooperation with the Asia of Myanmar and its neighbor ASEAN,” the UK ambassador told the UN, Barbara Woodward, February Council Chair, to reporters.
Russia-backed China shielded Myanmar from any significant Council action after the 2017 military crackdown. Beijing and Moscow have veto powers in the council along with France, the UK, and the US.
The UN has called for the release of all detainees, Dujarric said. He said Guterres’ special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, “remains actively engaged” and is expected to brief the Security Council.
China, which wields considerable influence over neighboring Myanmar, called on all parties to uphold the constitution on Monday and maintain stability in a statement that “noted” the events in the country rather than expressly condemning them.
The Burmese military said it had detained Aung San Suu Kyi and others in response to “electoral fraud” in the polls, giving power to military leader Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for a period of time. year.
The coup came hours before the convening of the first session of the country’s new parliament following the November elections in which the NLD made considerable gains, winning over 80% of the vote – increasing its support from 2015.
Summarizing a meeting of the new military government, the military said that the military leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, had pledged to practice a “truly flourishing multi-party democratic system of discipline.”
He promised free and fair elections and a transfer of power to the winning party, he said, without giving a deadline.
Later Monday, the military removed 24 ministers and appointed 11 replacement to oversee portfolios, such as finance, defense, foreign affairs and the interior.
Thomas Andrews, UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told Al Jazeera that it is important that the international community condemn the military coup in “the strongest possible terms”.
“This is a scandalous and unacceptable action on the part of the military … The military had very little responsibility as it stood. What is amazing is that they overthrow a constitution that they wrote, which gives them enormous power and a lack of accountability. So now it’s full and free reign, ”Andrews said.
“Everyone is in danger and everyone needs a strong international response.”
Biden threatens sanctions
Bangladesh, home to around one million Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar, called for “peace and stability” and said it hoped a process of repatriating the refugees could move forward.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has threatened to reimpose sanctions on Myanmar.
Biden said the actions of the military taking power “are a direct attack on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law,” adding that his administration would immediately reconsider the 2016 decision to lift economic sanctions in hope for a peaceful transition to democratic government.
“The United States has lifted sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress towards democracy,” Biden said in a statement using the US government’s name for Myanmar.
“Reversing this progress will require an immediate review of our sanctions laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”