As the United Nations Security Council discussed Myanmar’s military coup on Wednesday, the country’s junta declared a “ceasefire” — though it said it would continue to respond to “actions that disrupt government security and administration. “The ceasefire offer appeared to refer to actions taken against ethnic armed groups, where fighting has increased since the junta’s seizure of power in a coup on February 1. The statement, carried on Myanmar’s state television MRTV, called on ethnic armed groups to “keep the peace” and said the military would “suspend its operations unilaterally from April 1 to April 30.”Excluded from the peace, however, are those who “disrupt” government security. Pro-democracy demonstrators have repeatedly filled streets in Myanmar for nearly two months in protest over the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and key government officials. Security forces’ response has seen unarmed civilians shot in the street, and beatings, arbitrary detentions and night-time raids on the homes of suspected opposition members. This weekend saw the bloodiest crackdown yet, with at least 114 people killed on Saturday.Protesters with their faces painted stand near a burning makeshift barricade during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon on Tuesday. CNN has reached out to Myanmar’s military for comment. Since Saturday, the military has been conducting airstrikes in Karen state, forcing thousands of residents to flee into the jungle and neighbouring countries. Many of the villages targeted are controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic armed group that holds large swathes of territory in the borderlands. The KNU is one of many ethnic armed groups to have come out in support of the protests and to condemn the military takeover.
The UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgner on Wednesday highlighted the danger of “widespread and systemic attacks on the civilian population” and warned that a “bloodbath is imminent,” in her remarks to the Security Council. More than 520 people have been killed since the coup, she said. “Looking back ten years from now, how will history judge this inaction? I hope you can act while there is still time to avoid the worst outcome by overcoming caution and disagreement,” Burgner told the Security Council members.
‘Urgent help needed’
The Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun sent a letter to the UN Secretary General earlier in the week highlighting concerns about civilians’ safety in the country and calling for “effective action without delay” to restore democratic leadership.”The people of Myanmar feel helpless and are seeking urgent help from the international community to save lives of the innocent civilians,” the letter from Kyaw Moe Tun read.
The representative appealed to the United Nations and international community for protection of the Myanmar people against the military, assistance for all people in need, declaring a no-fly zone to prevent future airstrikes, tougher sanctions and freezing of military bank accounts, an immediate arms embargo and suspension of foreign direct investment. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Wednesday that asking for a United Nations intervention was a “broad call.” “I think the Secretary-General has been extremely vocal on Myanmar from the get-go. We want to be engaged but there are no bystanders in the solution,” Dujarric said.
CNN’s Chandler Thornton contributed to this report.