UN calls for release of ‘trapped’ Myanmar protesters

The UN has appealed to the military in Myanmar for the safe release of hundreds of protesters who are believed to be “trapped” inside an apartment block.

Security forces are thought to have cornered the group of about 200 people in a district of Yangon since Monday, the BBC reported.

The UN Human Rights Office said the group had been protesting peacefully and should be allowed to leave.

Mass protests have been seen across Myanmar since the military seized power on February 1.

More than 54 people have been killed by security forces in demonstrations so far.

According to the UN, the group were blocked from leaving a four-street area in the Sanchaung area of the city on Monday.

Police have been raiding houses in the area looking for people who are from outside the district. Residents and a local news service claimed on Facebook that at least 20 people have been arrested in the raids.

Explosions have been heard from the area, believed to be the sound of stun grenades used by the military.

UN chief Antonio Guterres was calling for “maximum restraint” and the “safe release of all without violence or arrests”, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Many of those trapped are women who were peacefully marching in commemoration of International Women’s Day,” he said.

The British Embassy also called for the protesters to be freed.

In Yangon, huge numbers of people gathered on the streets, defying a curfew, in an attempt to distract security forces. They were heard chanting “Free the students in Sanchaung”.