South Korea condemns Myanmar violence, urges release of Aung San Suu Kyi

A protester holds a sign with an image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, on March 5, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees in Myanmar, while the United Nation's Security Council is reviewing measures to take in response to the military coup in the Southeast Asian country.

"Use of violence against the people of Myanmar must stop now," Mr Moon said in a post on his Facebook page on Saturday (March 6).

"We condemn the violent suppression of protests by the military and the police forces, and strongly call for the immediate release of all those detained, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi."

The continuing crisis in Myanmar - Wednesday was the deadliest day of protests with 38 people killed - was on the agenda at a closed-door Security Council meeting on Friday.

The UN's special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told the meeting she receives about 2,000 messages a day calling "for international action to reverse a clear assault on the will of the people of Myanmar and democratic principles."

Security Council members are negotiating a further statement on the crisis following this week's violence, but diplomats acknowledged it's unlikely Russia and China will support sanctions on the military, which seized control in February.

The rising death toll may increase pressure on governments around the world to take more action against Myanmar's generals, who refused to recognise a landslide election victory by Suu Kyi's political party in November.

The US, which has announced sanctions targeting the military leaders and called for a return to democracy, signalled that it plans to respond with further measures.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported this week that about 1,000 people in the country have either been detained or are unaccounted for, having been arbitrarily taken from the streets.

The military junta announced it replaced Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun after he made a dramatic speech at the UN General Assembly last week in defence of the demonstrators. But the ambassador says he's still the envoy, and he won support from US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who met with him this week and commended his "courageous and compassionate statement."

In the latest twist, the deputy ambassador the junta installed in his place quit after facing criticism.

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