National Post

UN urges military restraint in Myanmar

Security forces trap hundreds of protesters

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The UN Security Council agreed on Wednesday to condemn violence against Myanmar protesters and call on the army to show restraint, but China and Russia helped block language denouncing the military takeover as a coup and threatenin­g further action.

Firing tear gas and rubber bullets, Myanmar security forces trapped hundreds of anti-junta protesters late into the night in two districts of Yangon on Wednesday, prompting the U.S. Embassy to call for the forces to withdraw.

Some protesters who managed to evade blockades set up by police in surroundin­g streets told of scores of arrests and said that some of those who got caught were beaten.

More than 60 protesters have been killed and some 2,000 people have been detained by security forces since the Feb. 1 coup against elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Assistance Associatio­n for Political Prisoners advocacy group said.

A junta spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The military has brushed off condemnati­on of its actions, as it has in past periods of army rule when outbreaks of protest were forcibly repressed.

State television announced arrest warrants against some of the bestknown youth protest leaders and showed a picture of 29 wanted protesters.

The protesters have been calling for internatio­nal protection and action against the junta.

One protester told Reuters from the southern coastal town of Myeik that he had been brought to Myeik Air Base and beaten with belts, chains, bamboo sticks and batons.

“The soldiers said, ‘This is the hell room, why don’t you guys have a taste?’ ” he said, declining to give his name for fear of reprisals. Reuters was unable to contact police in the town or the air base for comment.

Some police have refused orders to fire on unarmed protesters and have fled to neighbouri­ng India, according to an interview with one officer and classified Indian police documents.

“As the civil disobedien­ce movement is gaining momentum and protest(s) held by anti-coup protesters at different places we are instructed to shoot at the protesters,” four officers said in a joint statement to police in the Indian city of Mizoram. “In such a scenario, we don’t have the guts to shoot at our own people who are peaceful demonstrat­ors,” they said.

The army has justified the coup by saying that a November election won by the NLD was marred by fraud — an assertion rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised a new election, but has not said when.

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