UN backs return to democracy in Myanmar and urges release of detainees

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The UN Security Council strongly backed a return to democracy in Myanmar on Thursday and called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all those arbitrarily detained by the military.

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In its first statement on the military’s ouster of the government, the UN’s most powerful body “stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

The council’s 15 members also encouraged “dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

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In addition to calling for the immediate release of State Counsellor Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, the council expressed concern “at the restrictions on civil society, journalists and media workers.”

The statement was issued two days after the council met behind closed doors to discuss the military’s seizure of power on the eve of the first meeting of the country’s new Parliament. The military said it 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.

At that meeting, Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN envoy for Myanmar, urged the council to ensure that “democracy is expeditiously restored” to the Southeast Asian nation. The council took no immediate action because China, a close neighbor of Myanmar, and Russia said they needed to consult their capitals.