Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN has been fired a day after making a three-fingered salute in support of anti-coup protests – as he called on nations to use “any means necessary” to reverse the military takeover.
Kyaw Moe Tun was removed as police arrested hundreds of demonstrators who showed opposition to the coup on 1 February.
Myanmar’s crisis took a dramatic turn on Friday when the ambassador made a three-fingered salute adopted by the protesters before the UN General Assembly.
Mr Tun had called on the world to pressure the military to cede power and said he was speaking on behalf of the ousted civilian government of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
He used an emotional speech to urge all countries to issue public statements strongly condemning the coup.
Mr Tun also urged the international community to “use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people of Myanmar”.
The ambassador also called for stronger international measures to stop violence by security forces against peaceful demonstrators.
He drew loud applause from many diplomats in the 193-nation global body, as well as effusive praise on social media, where people from Myanmar and further afield described him as a hero.
Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV said he had “betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organisation which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador”.
Mr Tun has been fired as police arrested hundreds of protesters who had showed their opposition to the coup on Saturday.
Aung Myo Kyaw, a representative from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) rights group in Myanmar, said: “We can definitely say hundreds.
“More than 10 prison buses went into Insein prison with about 40 to 50 people in a prison bus. They arrested many people in Monywa too. We are now trying to get the names of the people.”
Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown as protesters sought to assemble in the country’s two biggest cities.
Officers made arrests at the Hledan Center intersection in Yangon which has become a gathering point for protesters.
Security forces also tried to thwart protests in Mandalay, where roadblocks were set up at several key intersections and the regular venues for rallies were flooded with police.
Mandalay has been the scene of several violent confrontations and at least four of eight confirmed deaths linked to the protests, according to the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.
There were also arrests in the city on Friday as demonstrators demanded the restoration of the government of Ms Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory in November.
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The military takeover has reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule.
Ms Suu Kyi’s party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint and other top members of her government.
The junta said it took power because last year’s polls were marred by massive irregularities. Before the military seized power, the election commission had refuted allegations of widespread fraud.
The junta dismissed the old commission’s members and appointed new ones, who annulled the election results on Friday.
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