Myanmar's UN ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun has been fired, a day after he urged the United Nations to use "any means necessary" to reverse the February 1 military coup.
Kyaw Moe Tun had told the UN General Assembly he was speaking on behalf of the ousted civilian government of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
State television, 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."
Tun vowed to fight after the junta fired him telling Reuters, "I decided to fight back as long as I can."
The United Nations does not officially recognise the junta as Myanmar's new government as it has received no official notification of any change, said a UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity, and so Tun remains Myanmar's UN ambassador, for now.
The Myanmar junta says it has fired Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun after his courageous anti-coup speech at the UN General Assembly. What if the ambassador just ignores the junta? I suspect most governments at the UN will continue to treat him as the ambassador. https://t.co/nyjnpKBfQM pic.twitter.com/5t1KFKBAf8— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 28, 2021
"We have not received any communication concerning changes to the representation of Myanmar at the United Nations in New York," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
If the Myanmar junta, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, tries to seek international recognition by installing a new UN envoy it could set off a fight at the world body that could culminate with a vote at the General Assembly.
At least one woman was reportedly killed as police in Myanmar cranked up their crackdown against gatherings of anti-coup protesters.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained elected leader Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.
Uncertainty has grown over Suu Kyi's whereabouts, as the independent Myanmar Now website on Friday quoted officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party as saying she had been moved this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.
The coup has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Myanmar's streets and drawn condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.
Another shot dead
Police were out in force in the main city of Yangon and elsewhere on Saturday, taking up positions at usual protest sites and detaining people as they congregated, witnesses said. Several media workers were detained.
Three domestic media outlets said a woman was shot and killed in the central town of Monwya. Police there were not immediately available for comment.
At a United Nations meeting held in New York today, Myanmar's UN ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, condemned the Feb. 1 coup and called on the international community to use "any means necessary" to get the ruling military council to "return the state power to the people."#Myanmarcoup pic.twitter.com/yWUbvjrpY5— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) February 26, 2021
Earlier, a protester in the town said police had fired water cannon as they surrounded a crowd.
"They used water cannon against peaceful protesters – they shouldn't treat people like that," Aye Aye Tint told Reuters from the town.
In Yangon, despite the police presence, people came out to chant and sing, then scatter into side streets as police advanced, firing tear gas, setting off stun grenades and firing guns into the air, witnesses said.
Similar scenes played out in the second city of Mandalay and several other towns, including Dawei in the south, witnesses and media said.
Among those detained at a Mandalay protest was Win Mya Mya, one of only two Muslim members of parliament for the NLD, media said.
Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing has said authorities were using minimal force.
Nevertheless, at least three protesters have died in the weeks of turmoil. The army says a policeman was also killed.
'Our cause will prevail'
At the UN General Assembly, Kyaw Moe Tun said he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi's government and appealed for "any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people".
"We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup ... and to restore the democracy," he said.
Tun appeared emotional as he read the statement on behalf of a group of elected politicians that he said represented the legitimate government.
Delivering his final words in Burmese, the career diplomat raised the three-finger salute of pro-democracy protesters and announced, "Our cause will prevail."
Reuters was not immediately able to contact the army for comment.
Time to move
Coup opponents hailed Kyaw Moe Tun as a hero and flooded social media with messages of thanks. UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said he was overwhelmed as he watched the ambassador's "act of courage".
"It's time for the world to answer that courageous call with action," Andrews said on Twitter.
China's envoy did not criticise the coup and said the situation was part of Myanmar's "internal affairs". China supported diplomacy by southeast Asian countries, he said.
But in more bad news for the generals who have traditionally shrugged off outside pressure, Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it was cutting its presence in Myanmar over concern about rights violations and violence by security forces.
"Woodside supports the people of Myanmar and we hope to see a peaceful journey to democracy," the company said.
Election date not declared
A lawyer for Suu Kyi, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters he had also heard that she had been moved from her home in the capital, Naypyitaw, but could not confirm it. Authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawyer said he had been given no access to Suu Kyi ahead of her next hearing on Monday and he was concerned about her access to justice and legal counsel.
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 75, spent nearly 15 years under house arrest during military rule.
She faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols.
The army has promised an election but not given a date. It has imposed a one-year state of emergency.
The question of an election is at the centre of a diplomatic effort by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member.
Indonesia has taken the lead but coup opponents fear the effort could legitimise the junta and what they see as its bid to annul the November election.
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