Soldiers stand guard near an intersection Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Hundreds of members of Myanmar's Parliament remained confined inside their government housing in the country's capital on Tuesday, a day after the military staged a coup and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (AP Photo)

UN Security Council takes no action on coup in Myanmar

CAMEROON, Cameroon — The U.N. envoy for Myanmar urged an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday to ensure that “democracy is expeditiously restored” to the Southeast Asian nation, but the United Nations’ most powerful body took no immediate action.

Christine Schraner Burgener, the Myanmar ambassador who is currently in Europe, strongly condemned the military’s takeover of the government and said the council must “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar” and ensure the country “doesn’t fall back into isolation.”

Diplomats said restoring democracy was the key element of a draft statement prepared for the council to release to the media after the closed-door meeting, along with a condemnation of the military’s action and call for the immediate release of all those detained.

But the statement was not issued because it requires support from all 15 council members and the U.N. missions for China and Russia said they needed to send it to their capitals for review, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed. China has close ties to Myanmar.

Schraner Burgener told the council that the Myanmar military’s declaration of a state of emergency and detention of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi and dozens of lawmakers and civilian officials just as the new parliamentary session was about to open Monday “was surprising and shocking.”

The military said the seizure of power was necessary because the government had not acted on the military’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud in November’s election in which Suu Kyi’s party won a majority of seats.

Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Barbara Woodward, the current council president, told reporters after the meeting that ambassadors echoed widespread international concerns about the military’s action at the virtual session.

“And we welcome the role of regional partners … to resolve this crisis,” including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, she said.

Brunei, which chairs the 10-nation regional ASEAN group, including Myanmar, issued a statement Monday noting the bloc’s principles include “the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The statement encouraged “the pursuance of dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

But it made no mention of any action by ASEAN to take the lead in returning Myanmar to a democratic path.

At the United Nations, Woodward said: “Discussions will continue among council colleagues on next steps. I certainly hope that we will be able to speak with one voice.”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, called Myanmar “a friendly neighbour” Tuesday and expressed hope that all parties “will properly handle their differences under the constitutional and legal framework and maintain political and social stability.”

“Whatever actions taken by the international community shall contribute to Myanmar’s political and social stability, promote its peace and reconciliation, and avoid escalating the conflict and complicating the situation,” Wang said in Beijing.

Myanmar has been a very difficult issue for the Security Council to take any action, but not impossible.

In November 2017, the council adopted a presidential statement condemning widespread violence in northern Rakhine State and expressing grave concern at reported human rights violations by Myanmar’s security forces against minority Rohingya Muslims. It called on the government to ensure “no further excessive use of military force,” which led 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Before Tuesday’s council meeting, the U.N.’s director for the group Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, said the council’s “abysmal failure to address Myanmar’s past appalling human rights abuses assured the military they could do as they please without serious consequences.”

He called on the council to demand the immediate release of all detained political leaders and activists and the restoration of civilian democratic rule. He said sanctions should be imposed “on those military leaders responsible.”

Amnesty International’s deputy director of advocacy, Sherine Tadros, urged the council to freeze the assets of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, now in charge of the government, and other military leaders responsible for crimes against ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya.

“The Security Council must also impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar, and crucially, refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court,” she said.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday called the Myanmar military’s action a coup, setting the stage for sanctions and other measures targeting what State Department officials said was “the very small circle of military generals” responsible.

While the U.S. and other Western nations may impose sanctions on Myanmar, Security Council approval of targeted measures is highly unlikely. That would take a resolution, which China would likely veto.

Getting approval for a press statement remains a possibility, but not a certainty.

Sven Jürgenson, the U.N. ambassador for council member Estonia, supported the proposed statement, strongly condemning the coup and urging Myanmar’s military to respect the 2008 constitution, allow Parliament to do its work, and “recommit to the peace process.”

Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read