Myanmar’s UN ambassador fired after anti-insurgency speech as military action against opposition intensifies

Local politician Kiao Min Hitke was shot dead by police in the southern city of Dawei. One person was killed and more than a dozen were injured, Davei and Watch Media outlets reported.

A spokesman for the police and the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Videos posted on social media also captured the growing confrontation between protesters and security forces in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay.

In a video from Yangon’s Haledan district, shots are heard. Local media reported that at least five people were injured in those clashes. At least five students were arrested during protests elsewhere in downtown Yangon on Sunday. Shots can also be heard in a live stream posted on social media by local media from Yangon’s Tamwe township, in which a crowd of protesters is seen fleeing from the police.

The army stepped up its crackdown on anti-insurgency protesters over the weekend, with reports of hundreds of arrests.

The clashes erupted after the ruling military group fired the country’s ambassador to the United Nations for a loving plea to the country’s UN ambassador to the UN General Assembly for international action to help overturn the conflict.

On saturday, State television MRTV announced the removal of UN Ambassador Kyaw Mo Tune, saying he had “abused the powers and responsibilities of a permanent ambassador” and that he was “betraying the country.”

Speaking to Reuters after his firing, Kiaw Mo Tune said he “decided to fight as long as I could.”

Protests erupted in Myanmar for 22 consecutive days after the country’s military seized power on February 1, after ousting the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, a detained civilian leader, along with other government leaders, including President Win Myint.
Myanmar's UN Ambassador Kia Mo Mo Tun speaks inside the General Assembly on February 26.

Addressing the assembly in New York on Friday, Kiao Mo Tun ignored military rulers in control of the country and urged the UN Security Council and the world to use any necessary means to save the people of Myanmar and “keep the military in mind”. .

“We need the strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, stop the repression of innocent people, restore state power to the people and restore democracy,” he said.

Kyaw Mo To said he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi’s government, which won a landslide victory in the November 8 election.

In a notorious demonstration, the ambassador also spread the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute used by protesters on Myanmar’s roads and acknowledged the recent protests in neighboring Thailand.

The diplomat received a rare greeting from his UN colleagues at the end of the speech. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the new US ambassador to the UN, praised the ambassador’s “courageous” remarks.

“The United States strongly condemns the military coup in Myanmar,” he told the legislature on Friday. “And we condemn the brutal killing of unarmed people by the armed forces.”

Thomas-Greenfield added that the U.S. “will continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance, including to the Rohingya and other vulnerable populations in the states of Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Shan.”

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Akila Radhakrishnan, chairperson of the Global Justice Center, said in a statement on Friday that the world should appreciate the bravery of Representative Kawa Mo Tune for making such a powerful statement, not an illegal military junta, in favor of the people of Myanmar.

“The international community should support the will of the people of Myanmar by recognizing the CRPH and refusing to legitimize, normalize or co-operate with the military government.”

The army continued to crack down on rebel protesters on Saturday, with hundreds arrested, including journalists.

The working group, the Association for the Support of Political Prisoners (APP), said that in towns and cities across the country, security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and fired their guns into the air to disperse protesters.

According to Reuters, citing local media and an emergency worker, a woman was shot and wounded in the central city of Monaya.

In the largest city, Yangon, police fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse a group of protesters representing Myanmar’s various ethnic groups. Protesters were shouting insults at police before the disruption, a witness told CNN. Police chased around as the group dispersed.

In a village on the outskirts of the capital Naypyidaw, riot police used tear gas grenades and fired rubber bullets into the air to disperse hundreds of protesters.

The APP said that as of Saturday, it had documented the arrest, charge or sentencing of 854 people since the February 1 uprising. The group noted that “hundreds of people” were arrested in Yangon and other places on Saturday.

CNN’s Richard Roth, Hamdi Alakhshali, Christina Siglia and Jamira Rahim contributed.