A man flashes a three-finger salute near a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi to show his resistance against the military coup in Yangon, Feb 4, 2021.

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) – The United Nations Security Council on Thursday (Feb 4) called for the release of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained by the military and voiced concern over the state of emergency there but stopped short of condemning the coup.

The 15-member council was briefed on Tuesday, a day after the Myanmar army detained Suu Kyi and others in response to “election fraud,” handed power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and imposed a one-year state of emergency.

The military takeover cut short Myanmar’s long transition to democracy and drew condemnation from the United States and other Western countries.

An initial text, drafted by Britain, condemned the coup, but that language appeared to have been softened – there is no reference to a coup – to win support from China and Russia, which have traditionally shielded Myanmar from any significant council action.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pledged on Wednesday to mobilise enough international pressure on Myanmar’s military “to make sure that this coup fails.”

In the agreed statement, the council “stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

It “encouraged the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar,” the statement said.

A spokesman for China’s UN mission said Beijing hoped the key messages in the Security Council statement “could be heeded by all sides and lead to a positive outcome.”

“As a friendly neighbour of Myanmar, China hopes that all parties in Myanmar will put the aspiration and interests of the people first, properly handle differences through dialogue within the constitutional and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability,” the spokesman said.

“The international community should create a sound external environment for Myanmar to properly resolve the differences.”