The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the Myanmar military's use of violence in cracking down on people protesting last month's coup and urged the military to "exercise utmost restraint."
While strongly condemning violence against peaceful protesters including women and children, it also called for an immediate release of people detained by the military, according to a statement from the council's president.
The president's statement, which is seen as having more authority than a press statement, was unanimously supported by the council's 15 members.
In the statement, the Security Council expressed its "continued support for the democratic transition in Myanmar," and stressed the need to "fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and uphold the rule of law."
The council also expressed "deep concern at restrictions on medical personnel, civil society, labor union members, journalists and media workers."
At the same time, the language of the statement was considerably watered down from its original version, drafted by Britain, with phrases denouncing the military coup and mentioning U.N. readiness to take necessary actions to address the matter being deleted, a diplomatic source said.
China and Russia had demanded the rephrasing of the document, the source added. The two countries, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, often take positions at odds with the United States and other Western countries in international disputes.
The council convened an informal session last Friday to discuss Myanmar's military crackdown on protesters in the Southeast Asian country as the death toll has continued to rise.
After members failed to find consensus during the closed-door meeting, negotiations on the wording of a potential document on the Myanmar situation continued.
Criticism has grown in the international community over the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the country's democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and resulted in the detention of many government officials including Suu Kyi.
When the Security Council gathered in early February, days after the military coup, it released a press statement expressing "deep concern" about the detention of Myanmar government officials and called for "the immediate release of all those detained."
But the press statement stopped short of denouncing the Myanmar military.