Myanmar generals under renewed pressure after G7 condemnation, sanctions
YANGON, Feb 23: Myanmar's military leaders came under renewed pressure Tuesday as the world's wealthiest nations condemned the junta for responding to anti-coup demonstrators "with violence", a rebuke coming on the heels of tightened sanctions from Washington and Brussels.
Authorities have gradually ratcheted up their use of force against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations so far, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead on the weekend.
"Use of live ammunition against unarmed people is unacceptable," the foreign ministers of the G7 group of rich democracies -- comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States together with the EU -- said in a statement Tuesday.
"Anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence must be held to account," they said, calling for Myanmar security forces to "exercise utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law".
The sharp condemnation comes after the overnight blacklisting of another two members of the regime by the United States -- air force chief Maung Maung Kyaw and fellow junta member Moe Myint Tun -- after Washington announced targeted sanctions against other top generals earlier this month.
Hours earlier, the European Union also approved sanctions targeting Myanmar's military and their economic interests, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying financial support to government reform programmes was being "withheld".
"Sanctions can always hit people on the ground which we should avoid, but targeted sanctions are needed because we need huge pressure against the coup," United Nations special envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener told France 24, adding she suspected the regime was surprised by the scale of resistance.
Protesters continued staging rallies across Myanmar, though commercial hub Yangon saw much smaller numbers massing at key junctions on Tuesday, holding impromptu concerts. "The military has always won using weapons and I don't like that at all," said protester Chan Mya. "We hate that and we'll keep protesting and expressing what we feel in peaceful ways." -AFP