EX-DEPUTY First Minister Jim Wallace is heading a Church of Scotland call urging Liz Truss to help restore democracy in Myanmar.

Now a life peer, Wallace was made Moderator of the Kirk last spring, not long after the military coup saw Myanmar's elected government thrown out of power, leading to 12 months of bloody struggle.

The Kirk has a longstanding partnership with the 30,000-member Presbyterian Church of Myanmar and, on the anniversary of the coup, Scottish leaders are urging the Foreign Secretary to use diplomacy to aid citizens.

Wallace has signed his name to a joint letter pressing Truss to seek a ceasefire from Tatmadaw, the armed forces of Myanmar. It asks her to seek a return to barracks and an end to killings by security forces in the 54 million-strong nation, which was once under British imperial rule.

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The call claims that legacy means the UK should now take a leading role in building an international diplomatic response to the current crisis.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified the deaths of around 1500 people amidst the use of live fire, rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters, but the group says that number is likely a fraction of the true total. Meanwhile, UN experts say 320,000 people have had to flee to other parts of the country.

Other signatories include representatives of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the United Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and Baptists Together.

The letter says church partners in Myanmar "have reported to us the abuses and atrocities unleashed by the Min Aung Hlaing administration and Tatmadaw forces against their own people". It goes on: "The National Unity Government has drawn support from across ethnic divides and seeks a restoration of democracy.

"Armed militias are forming in several regions and raising the prospect of further violent conflict."

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And, asking for details on any planned economic sanctions, it goes on: "Two oil companies announced that they will pull out of their long-standing offshore gas operations as they are unable to prevent revenues flowing into the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

"In the light of this we would be pleased to learn of the UK Government's current thinking on the application of further sanctions in relation to Myanmar for as long as the military regime continues its attacks and ignores appeals to negotiate or to step down."

Britain annexed Burma in 1886. The country gained independence in 1948 but came under military rule from 1962. A democratically-elected government was elected in 2011 in a move that was seen to begin a new era.

However, the military backed the opposition in 2020 when they claimed that the landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party was a fraud. She and other ruling party members were taken into custody on February 1 2021, with the borders closed as a state of emergency was declared by military leaders.