UN Security Council Finds Rare Unity in Criticizing Myanmar Coup
Demonstrators hold up images of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Bangkok, Thailand (Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg)

UN Security Council Finds Rare Unity in Criticizing Myanmar Coup

The U.S., China and other members of the United Nations Security Council called Thursday for the “immediate release” of all those detained in Myanmar while emphasizing the need for the “continued support of the democratic transition” in the Southeast Asian nation.

In a rare show of unity, the 15-member body on Thursday called for “the continued support of the democratic transition in Myanmar.” In a statement, the panel “stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

Myanmar’s military this week detained Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, declared a state of emergency for a year and voided her party’s landslide election victory in a setback for the country’s nascent democracy. The move led the U.S. to declare the military takeover a coup, prompting a review of foreign assistance and the possibility of new sanctions against the country’s leaders.

China’s diplomats sought to strike a balance by supporting the Security Council statement while issuing a separate statement noting that China is a “friendly neighbor” of Myanmar and highlighting that the council is calling for “dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

“It is some relief for the people of Myanmar that the UN Security Council finally took action today by agreeing on a statement concerning the military coup,” Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, said in a statement. “But thanks to recent, historic levels of gridlock on the Council, the bar has been set far too low. If this statement is not followed by formal action, it is meaningless.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called the coup “absolutely unacceptable,” urging the international community to make sure democracy is protected in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military-run government this week ordered internet service providers to temporarily block access to Facebook amid growing protests days after seizing power from its civilian leadership. Residents in Yangon sang songs and banged on pots for a third straight evening on Thursday following the first small-scale protest in Mandalay earlier in the day.

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