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Iran Press TV

G7 foreign ministers condemn Myanmar junta violence

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 11:30 AM

The Group of Seven (G7) countries has "firmly" condemned the heavy-handed crackdown committed by Myanmar's junta against anti-coup protesters.

The foreign ministers of the G7 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the United States as well as the European Union's high representative for foreign policy, on Tuesday urged the Myanmarese security forces to "exercise utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law."

"Use of live ammunition against unarmed people is unacceptable. Anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence must be held to account," G7 foreign ministers said in a statement.

"We condemn the intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup. We raise our concern at the crackdown on freedom of expression, including through the internet blackout and draconian changes to the law that repress free speech," the statement added.

The G7 also urged a halt to the "systematic targeting" of demonstrators, doctors, civil society activists, and journalists and called on the military regime to revoke its declared state of emergency.

The G7 also reiterated its opposition to the February 1 coup.

The Myanmarese military said on February 1 that it had arrested ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her associates over accusations of voter fraud in favor of her National League for Democracy (NLD) Party in November 2020 elections.

The military placed commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in power and pledged to hold fresh elections in a year and hand over power to the winner.

Four demonstrators have been killed in the anti-coup protests that have rocked the country since then.

"We remain united in condemning the coup in Myanmar. We call again for the immediate and unconditional release of those detained arbitrarily, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and continue to stand with the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy and freedom," the G7 foreign ministers said.

EU mulls sanctions on Myanmar

Myanmar's junta is under mounting pressure at home, with protesters opposing the return to the military rule taking to the streets despite threats.

The military leaders are also facing pressure from abroad, with the European Union (EU) mulling sanctions on businesses owned by the army in support of the protesters.

"We are not prepared to stand by and watch," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said ahead of a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, adding that sanctions could follow.

Overnight, EU foreign ministers expressed their readiness to impose sanctions on Myanmar's officials over the coup.

US hits two Myanmar generals with sanctions

The United States hit two members of Myanmar's junta with sanctions on Monday over the coup.

The sanctions targeted General Maung Maung Kyaw, who is the air force commander in chief, and Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun, a former army chief of staff and commander of one of the military's special operations bureaus that oversee operations from the capital, Naypyidaw.

"The military must reverse its actions and urgently restore the democratically elected government in Burma, or the Treasury Department will not hesitate to take further action," the department said in a statement, using a Western word of reference for Myanmar.

The measures freeze any US assets they may have and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.

The latest measures come as part of the second round of sanctions targeting Myanmar's coup leaders. Earlier this month, Washington imposed sanctions on the acting president of Myanmar and several military officers, as well as three companies.

Indonesia 'supports people of Myanmar'

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi expressed her country's support for the people of Myanmar, saying Myanmar's transition to democracy "should be pursued according to the wishes of the Myanmar people. Any way forward is the means to this end."

"Indonesia is very concerned about the situation in Myanmar and supports the Myanmar people. The well-being and security of the Myanmar people is the number one priority," Retno said in a message sent to Reuters by her office on Tuesday.

Her remarks came after anti-coup protesters voiced their opposition to a Reuters report that Indonesia is pushing a plan for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to send observers to ensure the junta holds fair elections, as it has promised.

Some protesters had also called on social media for demonstrations at Indonesia's embassy in Myanmar.

Retno also urged all parties to "deploy maximum restraint to avoid bloodshed."

Myanmar was ruled by the military from 1962 until 2011, when Suu Kyi ended the junta rule.

Her international reputation has been tarnished because she defended a military campaign of genocide against the minority Rohingya Muslim community in 2017.

Malaysia deports Myanmarese despite condemnation

Meanwhile, the Malaysian authorities on Tuesday deported 1,086 Myanmarese detainees on three Myanmarese navy ships from a military base on Malaysia's west coast.

"The immigration department wants to emphasize that no Rohingya migrants or asylum seekers have been sent back," Malaysian immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement. "All of those who have been deported agreed to return of their own free will, without being forced."

The deportations came despite a ruling issued earlier on Tuesday by the Kuala Lumpur High Court that ordered the halt of the repatriations after rights groups petitioned to say deportation could endanger their lives.

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