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Myanmar junta sacks UN ambassador

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Police run to disperse protesters as they crack down on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon on Saturday. AFP

Myanmar junta sacks UN ambassador

Myanmar’s junta fired its UN ambassador on February 27 for breaking ranks to denounce the military’s ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as police stepped up a crackdown on protesters across the country.

The country has been shaken by a wave of demonstrations since a coup toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Authorities have ramped up the use of force to suppress dissent, deploying tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse some protests. Live rounds have been used in isolated cases.

In justifying its seizure of power, the military has alleged widespread fraud in the November elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, and promised fresh polls in a year.

But its ambassador to the UN on February 26 broke ranks and made an emotional appeal to the international community for “the strongest possible action . . . to restore democracy”.

Kyaw Moe Tun also pleaded with his “brothers and sisters” in Burmese to keep fighting.

“This revolution must win,” he said, flashing the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of resistance against the junta.

By February 27 night, state-run TV announced that Kyaw Moe Tun was no longer Myanmar’s UN ambassador.

“[He] didn’t follow the order and direction by the state and betrayed the country,” according to a Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) broadcast.

“That is why he is revoked from his position starting from today.”

‘We want to fight until we win’

News of Kyaw Moe Tun’s removal follows a day of crackdowns and mass arrests by Myanmar’s security forces as the country enters its fourth week of daily protests against the generals’ grip on power.

Chaos unfolded across commercial hub Yangon, with police closing in early on peaceful demonstrators and deploying rubber bullets to disperse them from Myaynigone junction.

Protesters scattered into residential streets and started building makeshift barricades out of stacked tables and trash cans to stop the police.

Many wore hard hats and gas masks, wielding homemade shields for protection.

“What are the police doing? They are protecting a crazy dictator,” the protesters chanted angrily.

Local reporters broadcast the chaotic scenes live on Facebook, including the moments when the shots rang out, which AFP reporters on the ground also witnessed.

“We want to fight until we win,” said protester Moe Moe, 23, who used a pseudonym.

At nearby Hledan junction several rounds of stun grenades were fired, according to AFP reporters.

At least three media workers were detained, including an Associated Press photographer, a video journalist from Myanmar Now, and a photographer from the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency.

Another protest near a shopping centre in nearby Tamwe Township was broken up by police.

Aye Myint Kyi, a distraught mother of one shopper, said she reached her daughter briefly on the phone, who said she was being taken.

“I don’t know where she was taken,” she said, crying. “She was unjustly arrested.”

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