Myanmar forces fire tear gas, stun grenades on protest as U.N. envoy calls for action

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Myanmar forces fire tear gas, stun grenades on protest as U.N. envoy calls for action

Myanmar security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to break up a protest in Yangon on Saturday, just hours after a United Nations special envoy called on the Security Council to take action against the ruling junta for the killings of protesters.

The Southeast Asian country has been plunged in turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with daily protests and strikes that have choked business and paralyzed administration.

Sporadic protests were staged across Myanmar on Saturday and local media reported that police fired tear gas shells and stun grenades to break up a protest in the Sanchaung district of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. There were no reports of casualties.

More than 50 protesters have been killed since the coup, according to the United Nations – at least 38 on Wednesday alone. Protesters demand the release of Suu Kyi and the respect of November’s election, which her party won in a landslide, but which the army rejected.

“How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?” Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Friday, according to a copy of her remarks reviewed by Reuters.

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“It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent inputting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.”

A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.

The army says it has been restrained in stopping the protests but has said it will not allow them to threaten stability.

Several hundred people gathered in Sydney on Saturday to protest against the coup, singing and holding up three fingers, a salute that has come to symbolize solidarity and resistance across Myanmar.