Myanmar's UN envoy urges no-fly zone, sanctions against junta

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun also called for an international arms embargo and the freezing of bank accounts. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS (AFP, REUTERS) - Myanmar's envoy to the United Nations, who has rebelled against the junta, on Friday (April 9) urged a no-fly zone, arms embargo and targeted sanctions in a passionate plea for action.

"Your collective, strong action is needed immediately," ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told a Security Council meeting.

"Time is of the essence for us," he said. "Please, please take action."

He voiced regret so far at the "lack of adequate and strong action by the international community, especially the UN Security Council".

The envoy, appearing virtually with the flag of Myanmar behind him, said that the junta has deliberately been targeting civilians and he voiced anguish over the deaths of children.

"A no-fly zone should be declared to avoid further bloodshed caused by the military air strikes on civilian areas.

"No doubt that these acts are not acceptable to all of us in this modern world," he said.

"I strongly believe that the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, will not let these atrocities keep going on in Myanmar."

He also called for an international arms embargo and the freezing of bank accounts associated with members of the military and their families.

All foreign direct investments should also be suspended until the restoration of the democratically elected government, the ambassador said.

Meanwhile, 19 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar for killing an associate of an army captain, the military-owned Myawaddy TV station said on Friday (April 8), the first such sentences announced in public since a Feb 1 coup and crack down on protesters.

The report said the killing took place on March 27 in the North Okkalapa district of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.

Martial law has been declared in the district, allowing courts martial to pronounce sentences.

The military rulers who overthrew an elected government said on Friday that a protest campaign against its rule was dwindling because people wanted peace, and that it would hold elections within two years, the first timeframe it has given for a return to democracy.

On Friday, troops fired rifle grenades at anti-coup protesters in the town of Bago, near Yangon, witnesses and news reports said. At least 10 people were killed and their bodies piled up inside a pagoda, they said.

Myanmar Now news and Mawkun, an online news magazine, said at least 20 people were killed and many wounded. It was not possible to get a precise toll because troops had cordoned off the area near the pagoda, they said.

Junta spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that the country was returning to normal and government ministries and banks would resume full operations soon.

More than 600 people have been killed by security forces cracking down on protests against the coup, according to an activist group. The country has ground to a standstill because of the protests and widespread strikes against military rule.

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