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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 28 (APP): The UN human rights office, OHCHR, Sunday strongly condemned the “escalating violence” in Myanmar after police and security forces killed 18 anti-coup protestors, and called for an immediate end to the use of force.

More than 30 demonstrators have been wounded as security forces used live rounds against crowds nationwide protesting the month-long military takeover, according to the Geneva-based OHCHR, citing “credible information”.

The military has claimed, without evidence, that the ruling party of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – fraudulently won parliamentary elections. Arrested on 1 February, she and other leaders have remained in detention and according to news reports she is due in court on Monday.

Sunday’s violence comes days after a dramatic appeal from Myanmar’s UN ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who publicly broke ranks with the ruling junta while addressing the UN General Assembly.

He said he was speaking on behalf of the ousted Aung San Suu Kyi civilian government and called for international intervention to help end the coup.

“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup,” he said on Friday.

On Saturday, Myanmar’s state broadcaster reported that the diplomat had been fired because he had “betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador.”

“I decided to fight back as long as I can,” Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters news agency in New York.

In a statement released in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, said, “The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy”.

“These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression.”

According to OHCHR, police and military confronted peaceful demonstrators using disproportionate force with deaths reported in the largest city Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myiek, Bago and Pokokku.

“Tear gas was also reportedly used in various locations as well as flash-bang and stun grenades”, said Ms. Shamdasani.

“Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms”, she said.

“Since the beginning of the coup d’état…the police and security forces have targeted an ever-increasing number of opposition voices and demonstrators by arresting political officials, activists, civil society members, journalists and medical professionals.

“Today alone, police have detained at least 85 medical professionals and students, as well as seven journalists, who were present at the demonstrations.

Over 1,000 individuals have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in the last month – some of whom remain unaccounted for – mostly without any form of due process, simply for exercising their human rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.”

The Spokesperson reiterated OHCHR’s call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained by the military authorities, “including members of the democratically elected government.

“The international community must stand in solidarity with the protestors and all those seeking a return to democracy in Myanmar”, Ms. Shamdasani added.