Pro-democracy protesters given the death penalty in Myanmar as UN Security Council is warned the country is on the verge of collapse.

Nineteen people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar for killing an associate of an army captain, the military owned Myawaddy TV station said, the first such sentences announced in public since a February 1 coup and crackdown on protesters.
Key points:

  • More than 600 people have been killed by Myanmar security forces cracking down on protests against the coup
  • The ambassadors of 18 countries including Australia have called for the restoration of democracy and release of political prisoners
  • The UN Security Council has been warned that Myanmar is on the verge of “state collapse”

The report said the killing took place on March 27 in the North Okkalapa district of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city. Martial law has been declared in the district, allowing military courts to pronounce sentences.
The military rulers who overthrew an elected government said that a protest campaign against its rule was dwindling because people wanted peace and that it would hold elections within two years, the first timeframe it has given for a return to democracy.
Troops fired rifle grenades at anti-coup protesters in the town of Bago, near Yangon, witnesses and news reports said.
At least 10 people were killed and their bodies piled up inside a pagoda, they said.
Myanmar Now news and Mawkun, an online news magazine, said at least 20 people were killed and many wounded. 
Almost 50 children have been killed since the February coup.(Reuters
Junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that the country was returning to normal and government ministries and banks would resume full operations soon.
More than 600 people have been killed by security forces cracking down on protests against the coup, according to an activist group. The country has ground to a standstill because of the protests and widespread strikes against military rule.
“The reason of reducing protests is due to cooperation of people who want peace, which we value,” General Zaw Min Tun said.
“We request people to cooperate with security forces and help them.”
He said the military had recorded 248 deaths and he denied that automatic weapons had been used. Sixteen policemen had also been killed, he said.
Observers are warning that Myanmar could be on the verge of collapse.(AP
Foreign ambassadors call for restoration of democracy
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group said 614 people, including 48 children, had been killed by security forces since the coup, as of Thursday evening (local time).
More than 2,800 were in detention, it said.
“We are humbled by their courage and dignity,” a group of 18 ambassadors in Myanmar said of the protesters in a joint statement.
“We stand together to support the hopes and aspirations of all those who believe in a free, just, peaceful and democratic Myanmar. Violence has to stop, all political detainees must be released and democracy must be restored.”
The statement was signed by the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and several other European nations.
Australian couple freed from house arrest in Myanmar.
“The suggestions from neighbouring countries and big countries and powerful people in politics, we respect them,” General Zaw Min Tun said.
He also accused members of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy of arson and said the protest campaign was being financed by foreign money, but gave no details.
Ms Suu Kyi and many of her party colleagues have been in custody since the coup.
General Zaw Min Tun said reports that some members of the international community did not recognise the military government were “fake news”.
“We are cooperating with foreign countries and working together with neighbouring countries,” the spokesman said.
Anti-coup protesters walk through a market with images of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon.(AP
Pressure grows on UN Security Council to act
Ousted Myanmar politicians urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the military.
“Our people are ready to pay any cost to get back their rights and freedom,” said Zin Mar Aung, who has been appointed acting foreign minister for a group of ousted politicians.
She urged council members to apply both direct and indirect pressure on the junta.
“Myanmar stands at the brink of state failure, of state collapse,” Richard Horsey, a senior adviser on Myanmar with the International Crisis Group, told the informal UN meeting, the first public discussion of Myanmar by council members.
The UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, had wanted to visit the country but said she has been rebuffed by the generals.
She said on Friday she had arrived in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand.
“I regret that Tatmadaw answered me yesterday that they are not ready to receive me,” Ms Schraner Burgener said on Twitter, referring to the Myanmar military.
“I am ready for dialogue. Violence never leads to peaceful sustainable solutions.”
What’s happening in Myanmar?