Now, Pope calls for release of political prisoners in Myanmar 

WION Web Team
Vatican City Published: Mar 03, 2021, 07:07 PM(IST)

A file photo of Pope Francis. Photograph:( AFP )

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Foreign firms should suspend all business in Myanmar to send a clear message to the military that its coup will hurt its people and ruin its economy, a former United Nations expert on the country said on Wednesday

Pope Francis said on Wednesday the hopes of the people of Myanmar cannot be 'suffocated by violence' and again called for the release of political prisoners. 

At least 30 people have been killed since a coup on February 1. The Pope, who visited Myanmar in 2017, made his comments at the end of his general audience at the Vatican. 

Meanwhile, a former United Nations expert on the country on Wednesday urged foreign firms to suspend all business activity in Myanmar to send a clear message to the military that its coup will hurt its people and ruin its economy. 

Chris Sidoti was part of an UN-led fact-finding mission, which in 2019 urged foreign firms to cut business ties with Myanmar's military over human rights abuses and pursue private sector investments there instead. 

That position has hardened since a February 1 coup and an ensuing bloody crackdown on protesters, Sidoti said, because the military has retaken control of the country it ruled for almost half a century, making it now risky to do any business there. 

"If businesses are responsible, they will put everything on hold at this point," said Sidoti, who has formed an independent advisory group on Myanmar with some other former UN investigators. 

"It will send a very clear message to the military that may, hopefully, cause them to rethink their actions. The country cannot revert to military dictatorship without enormous harm to the people of Myanmar," he said. 

Amid reports of being fired, Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun on Wednesday sent letters to the world body insisting that he remains the legitimate representative of his country, reported NHK World. 

In the letters dated on Monday, Kyaw Moe Tun wrote, "The perpetrators of the unlawful coup against the democratic government of Myanmar have no authority to countermand the legitimate authority of the president of my country. 

"He claimed he remains Myanmar's permanent representative to the United Nations and rejected the country's military takeover. US State Department Spokesperson, Ned Price, said at a news conference on Tuesday that the US government commends the bravery shown by Kyaw Moe Tun. He said the government understands that he remains in his position. 

Earlier on Friday, Kyaw at a UN General Assembly meeting condemned his country's military for seizing power in a February 1 coup. He called on the international community to 'use any means necessary' to reverse the coup, reported NHK World. 

Myanmar's state-run television reported later that the ambassador was fired for betraying the country. A UN spokesperson revealed that Myanmar's foreign ministry had notified the world body that the country had appointed the current deputy ambassador to temporarily fill the role, reported NHK World. 

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