The UN Security Council strongly “condemned” the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Myanmar, in a unanimous statement that China watered down after two days of tough negotiations.
“Members of the Security Council expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating situation and strongly condemned the use of force against peaceful protesters and killed hundreds of civilians, including women and children,” read the statement, initiated by former British colonial power.
In earlier versions of the text, obtained by the AFP, Western countries wanted to include a “readiness to consider further steps” – a reference to the possibility of international sanctions.
But China, considered Myanmar’s main ally, blocked the language, diplomats said.
Beijing also insisted on mitigating a reference to the “killing” of hundreds of civilians and turning it into civilian “deaths”.
Russia, diplomats said, also blocked the text several times because Moscow wanted a verdict condemning the deaths of the security forces in demonstrations.
Despite the lengthy negotiations, a Security Council spokeswoman sent a “very important signal”, an ambassador said on condition of anonymity.
Since the coup on February 1, the Security Council has issued three unanimous statements on Myanmar.
But Beijing, which has never acknowledged the existence of a coup, reduced the scope of the negotiated texts each time.
In addition, the Security Council’s position has had little effect on the military so far.
On Wednesday, the UN special envoy to Myanmar called for strong action against the junta and warned of a possible “bloodbath” and the risk of civil war.