UN demands Myanmar coup leaders free Suu Kyi

The U.N. Security Council called for the release of Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained by the military but stopped short of calling the takeover a coup.

In a statement on Thursday, the 15-member Council "stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes,[and] refrain from violence."

The language was watered down, apparently to win support from China and Russia, which have traditionally shielded Myanmar from significant action.

China has large economic interests in Myanmar, from its Belt and Road infrastructure projects to a controversial mega dam.

With the Myanmar military's early morning coup on Monday, hopes have shattered for the country's transition away from military rule, led by Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged the generals to step down, and the administration is considering an executive order which could include targeted sanctions on individuals.

"The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized; release the advocates, and activists, and officials they have detained; lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence."

It's unclear how effective that move would be as the generals have few overseas assets, but if foreign companies begin to leave Myanmar, that may damage their interests at home.

On Friday, Japanese drinks company Kirin said it would terminate its alliance with a conglomerate whose owners, according to the U.N., include the military.

Suu Kyi has not been seen since her arrest, along with activists and other top NLD party members detained by the military.

Her longtime supporter 79-year-old Win Htein was also arrested on Friday.