Riot police officers get on a police vehicle during a rally against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 26, 2021. REUTERS-Stringer

An envoy for Myanmar’s ousted government called on the United Nations to use “any means necessary” to stop a military coup on Friday, as police cracked down on anti-junta protesters with rubber bullets and stun grenades.

The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the army seized power on Feb. 1 and detained government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership after the military complained of fraud in a November election her party won. The election commission said the vote was fair.

Speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government, Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador appealed to the United Nations “to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people of Myanmar.”

“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy,” Kyaw Moe Tun told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, receiving applause as he finished.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach the army for comment.

U.N. special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener pushed the world body for a collective “clear signal in support of democracy” and told the General Assembly no country should recognise or legitimize the junta.

Uncertainty grew over Suu Kyi’s status on Friday as the independent Myanmar Now website quoted senior officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party as saying she had been moved this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.

Protesters who have taken to the streets daily for over three weeks demand the release of Suu Kyi and recognition of last year’s election.

PROTESTS BROKEN UP


In the biggest city, Yangon, riot police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and shots into the air to send protesters scattering. At least one person was wounded there, a witness said.

Several people were detained, witnesses said, among them a Japanese journalist who was held briefly.

Domestic media and witnesses reported a similar confrontation in Mandalay where police also fired rubber bullets. An emergency service worker said children were hurt there and media published pictures of two with minor injuries as well as of one man with a bloody leg wound. It was not clear how they were hurt.

Police also broke up protests in the capital, Naypyitaw, the central town of Magwe and in the western hill town of Hakha, according to witnesses and social media posts.

Military chief General Min Aung Hlaing says authorities were using minimal force. Nevertheless, at least three protesters have died. The army says a policeman was also killed.

Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained incommunicado in Naypyitaw since the coup.

The Myanmar Now website said she had been moved from her home in the capital, quoting a senior NLD source as saying: “We don’t know where she’s being kept anymore.”

A lawyer for her, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters he had heard the same from NLD officials but could not confirm it. Authorities did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Khin Maung Zaw earlier complained he was not able to prepare properly for her next hearing, on Monday, because he had no access.

“I need instructions from her on how to conduct our defence at the court … I’m concerned that there will be a loss of rights to access to justice and access to legal counsel,” he said.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, spent nearly 15 years under house arrest under previous juntas. She faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols.

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