Myanmar protests in 2nd week, with neither side backing down

Since taking Suu Kyi and her top allies into custody troops have stepped up arrests of civil servants doctors and others joining strikes calling on the generals to relinquish power

Myanmar's army on Saturday ordered the arrest of seven well-known backers of protests against this month's coup, including Min Ko Naing, who has been a leading pro-democracy activist since bloodily supressed protests in 1988.

The move means pages and profiles with links to the military will be harder to access, and fewer users will see content they post.

An emergency session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called for the new regime to release all "arbitrarily detained" persons and hand power back to Suu Kyi's administration.

The announcement was made on the eighth day of country-wide demonstrations against the February 1 takeover and detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which halted an unsteady transition to democracy that began in 2011.

The 47-member Geneva forum adopted a resolution brought by Britain and the European Union unanimously without a vote, although Russian Federation and China said afterwards that they "disassociated" themselves from the consensus.

After the updated resolution passed with no opposition, Chinese Ambassador Chen Xu thanked the sponsors for "adopting our recommendations" but said China still was distancing itself from the measure.

"For over 20 years, successive high commissioners and many eminent experts have briefed this council, and its predecessor, on violations committed by the country's military, which include some of the most serious crimes alleged under global law", she said.

"We are also prepared to take additional action should Burma's military not change course".

The session came shortly after the Biden administration, which has already imposed sanctions on top leaders of the Myanmar coup, revived U.S. participation in the Human Rights Council, which the Trump administration pulled the country out of in 2018.

The US charge d'affaires in Geneva, Mark Cassay re, urged Myanmar's military to return power to the democratically elected government, and invited other countries to "join us in promoting accountability for those responsible for the coup, including through targeted sanctions".

The United Nations on Tuesday condemned the use of force against protesters in Myanmar.

"Security Council resolutions dealing with similar situations have mandated sanctions, arms embargoes, and travel bans, and calling for judicial action at the International Criminal Court or ad hoc tribunals", he told the Council. 'All of these options should be on the table'.

In a special session at the Human Rights Council, the original resolution presented by Britain and the European Union was revised to remove calls to bolster the ability of a United Nations rights expert to scrutinise Myanmar and for restraint from the country's military.

"Myanmar is undergoing the complex - extremely complex - challenges and delicate transition", he said.

However, the resolution's language had been watered down somewhat in an apparent bid to get detractors on board.

Myanmar ambassador Myint Thu said Myanmar would continue to cooperate with the United Nations and uphold worldwide human rights treaties, adding: "We do not want to stall the nascent democratic transition in the country". Internet and news services were limited.

China and Russian Federation - which have close ties to Myanmar's military - said they opposed holding the session at all.

"As a sovereign country in a world of sovereign states, the Philippines can not stress strongly enough the primacy of national internal efforts towards democratic reforms, and never by the imposition of foreign solutions whether in regional or multilateral contexts, including through this Council", the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released on Saturday.

Russian ambassador Gennady Gatilov said human rights issues should be addressed through "open dialogue and cooperation".

Among protests across the country on Thursday, hundreds of workers lined a road in the capital Naypyitaw, chanting anti-junta slogans and carrying placards supporting Suu Kyi.

But the revised text excised a call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, to give the independent UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, "increased assistance, resources and expertise" to carry out his job.

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