Ousted Myanmar lawmakers urge UN Security Council to act over coup

A demonstrator flashes the defiant three-finger salute during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, on April 9, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Ousted Myanmar lawmakers urged the United Nations Security Council on Friday (April 9) to take action against the military over a Feb 1 coup as an independent think-tank warned the 15 council members that the Asian state was on the brink of collapse.

"Our people are ready to pay any cost to get back their rights and freedom," said Zin Mar Aung, who has been appointed acting foreign minister for a group of ousted lawmakers, known as the CRPH, trying to reestablish the civilian government.

During an informal meeting on Myanmar, she said the CRPH recognised an international reluctance to carry out a "direct physical intervention" to stop violence against civilians, but warned that further deterioration could lead to more human suffering, economic instability and "massive refugee outflows."

"We therefore urge the UN Security Council member states to take immediate, concrete action that places both direct and indirect pressure against the military," she told council members at what was the first public discussion of Myanmar by council members.

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.

"Myanmar stands at the brink of state failure, of state collapse," Richard Horsey, a senior adviser on Myanmar with the International Crisis Group, told the UN meeting on Friday.

"Not only has the military been unable to consolidate its attempted coup and effectively govern the country, but also its actions may be creating a situation where the country becomes ungovernable," he said.

The junta said on Friday that protests were dwindling and that it will hold elections within two years and hand over power to the elected government, offering the first time frame for a poll since it ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN Security Council has held several closed formal briefings and issued statements expressing concern and condemning violence against protesters, but any stronger action is unlikely as veto-powers China and Russia have traditionally shielded Myanmar at the United Nations.

Myanmar's UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, speaking for the country's elected civilian government, told Friday's meeting that "strong and urgent" action was needed from the Security Council, appealing for the body to "please take action now."

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