Escalating violence ups pressure for Myanmar action


BANGKOK: The escalation of violence in Myanmar as authorities crack down on protests against the Feb 1 coup is raising pressure for more sanctions against the junta, even as countries struggle over how to best sway military leaders inured to global condemnation.

The challenge is made doubly difficult by fears of harming ordinary citizens who were already suffering from an economic slump worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic but are braving risks of arrest and injury to voice outrage over the military takeover.

Still, activists and experts say there are ways to ramp up pressure on the regime, especially by cutting off sources of funding and access to the tools of repression.

The UN special envoy on Friday (Mar 5) urged the Security Council to act to quell junta violence that this week killed about 50 demonstrators and injured scores more.

“There is an urgency for collective action,” Christine Schraner Burgener told the meeting. “How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?”

Coordinated UN action is difficult, however, since permanent Security Council members China and Russia would almost certainly veto it.

Myanmar’s neighbours, its biggest trading partners and sources of investment, are likewise reluctant to resort to sanctions.

Some piecemeal actions have already been taken. The US, Britain and Canada have tightened various restrictions on Myanmar’s army, their family members and other top leaders of the junta. The US blocked an attempt by the military to access more than US$1 billion in Myanmar central bank funds being held in the US, the State Department confirmed on Friday.

But most economic interests of the military remain “largely unchallenged”, Thomas Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in Myanmar, said in a report issued last week. Some governments have halted aid and the World Bank said it suspended funding and was reviewing its programs.

READ: Protests erupt across Myanmar; police fire tear gas at Mandalay sit-in

READ: Boyfriend of Myanmar protest ‘martyr’ vows resistance

It is unclear whether the sanctions imposed so far, although symbolically important, will have much impact. Schraner Burgener told UN correspondents that the army shrugged off a warning of possible “huge strong measures” against the coup with the reply, “‘We are used to sanctions and we survived those sanctions in the past’”.

CUTTING OFF FUNDING “MOST URGENT”: EXPERT

Andrews and other experts and human rights activists are calling for a ban on dealings with the many Myanmar companies associated with the military and an embargo on arms and technology, products and services that can be used by the authorities for surveillance and violence.

The activist group Justice for Myanmar issued a list of dozens of foreign companies that it says have supplied such potential tools of repression to the government, which is now entirely under military control.

It cited budget documents for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Transport and Communications that show purchases of forensic data, tracking, password recovery, drones and other equipment from the US, Israel, EU, Japan and other countries. Such technologies can have benign or even beneficial uses, such as fighting human trafficking. But they also are being used to track down protesters, both online and offline.

READ: UN expert urges ‘global arms embargo’, sanctions on Myanmar

READ: US blocks Myanmar ministries, military businesses from certain trade

Restricting dealings with military-dominated conglomerates including Myanmar Economic Corporation, Myanmar Economic Holdings, and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise might also pack more punch, with a minimal impact on small, private companies and individuals.

One idea gaining support is to prevent the junta from accessing vital oil and gas revenues paid into and held in banks outside the country, Chris Sidoti, a former member of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said in a news conference on Thursday. Oil and gas are Myanmar’s biggest exports and a crucial source of foreign exchange needed to pay for imports. The country’s US$1.4 billion oil and gas and mining industries account for more than a third of exports and a large share of tax revenue.

“The money supply has to be cut off. That’s the most urgent priority and the most direct step that can be taken,” said Sidoti, one of the founding members of a newly established international group called the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar.

Unfortunately, such measures can take commitment and time, and “time is not on the side of the people of Myanmar at a time when these atrocities are being committed”, he said.

Myanmar’s economy languished in isolation after a coup in 1962. Many of the sanctions imposed by Western governments in the decades that followed were lifted after the country began its troubled transition towards democracy in 2011. Some of those restrictions were restored after the army’s brutal operations in 2017 against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s northwest Rakhine state.

The European Union has said it is reviewing its policies and stands ready to adopt restrictive measures against those directly responsible for the coup. Japan, likewise, has said it is considering what to do.

ASEAN NEIGHBOURS’ RESPONSE

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened a virtual meeting on Mar 2 to discuss Myanmar. Brunei, which chairs the grouping this year,later issued a statement calling for an end to violence and for talks to try to reach a peaceful settlement.

But ASEAN admitted Myanmar as a member in 1997, long before the military, known as the Tatmadaw, initiated reforms that helped elect a quasi-civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. By tradition, members are committed to consensus and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.

READ: Peaceful resolution in Myanmar still possible if all sides can have genuine dialogue, says Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan

READ: Southeast Asian nations urge halt to violence in Myanmar

While they lack an appetite for sanctions, some ASEAN governments have vehemently condemned the coup and the ensuing arrests and killings.

Marzuki Darusman, an Indonesian lawyer and former chair of the Fact-Finding Mission that Sidoti joined, said he believes the spiralling, brutal violence against protesters has shaken ASEAN’s stance that the crisis is purely an internal matter.

“ASEAN considers it imperative that it play a role in resolving the crisis in Myanmar,” Darusman said.

Thailand, with a 2,400km border with Myanmar and more than 2 million Myanmar migrant workers, does not want more to flee into its territory, especially at a time when it is still battling the pandemic.

Kavi Chongkittavorn, a senior fellow at Chulalongkorn University’s Institute of Security and International Studies, also believes ASEAN wants to see a return to a civilian government in Myanmar and would be best off adopting a “carrot and stick” approach.

Myanmar Sanctions

Protesters wearing safety helmets shout slogans and flash three-finger salutes during an anti-coup protest behind a barrier on a blocked road in Yangon, Myanmar on Mar 2, 2021. (Photo: AP)

But the greatest hope, he said, is with the protesters.

On Saturday, some protesters expressed their disdain by pouring Myanmar Beer, a local brand made by a military-linked company whose Japanese partner Kirin Holdings is withdrawing from, on people’s feet — considered a grave insult in some parts of Asia.

“The Myanmar people are very brave. This is the No 1 pressure on the country,” Chongkittavorn said in a seminar held by the East-West Center in Hawaii. “It’s very clear the junta also knows what they need to do to move ahead, otherwise sanctions will be much more severe.”



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Myanmar protesters vow more rallies after military raids on opposition figures



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Myanmar anti-coup demonstrators have vowed big turnouts Sunday as the junta regime intensifies its crackdown, following overnight raids in parts of Yangon which targeted officials from Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party. 

The country has been in chaos since the February 1 coup which ousted civilian leader Suu Kyi from power and triggered a mass uprising opposing the military junta regime.

Wednesday was the deadliest day so far, with the United Nations saying at least 38 people were gunned down as security forces fired into crowds, shooting some protesters in the head.

The UN rights office also said it has verified at least 54 deaths since the coup — though the actual number could be far higher — and more than 1,700 people have been detained.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party confirmed some officials were arrested in overnight raids.

“It’s true that in some townships NLD officials were arrested. But we do not know exactly how many persons were taken or arrested,” party official Soe Win told AFP.

NLD MP Sithu Maung posted on Facebook that security forces last night were searching the party’s information officer U Maung Maung at his house but couldn’t find him.

“U Maung Maung’s brother was beaten by police and soldiers and his body was held in an upside-down position while he was tortured because there was no one to arrest,” the MP said.

State-run media on Sunday warned lawmakers involved in a group — called the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw which is claiming to be the legitimately elected government of Myanmar — that they are committing “high treason” and could be sentenced to death or 22 years jail.

The junta has declared group members persona non-grata and says those who communicate with them could face seven years jail.

Undeterred 

Yangon-based activist Maung Saungkha flagged there were coordinated protests across multiple cities and regional areas on Sunday as part of a two-day general strike.

“We are willing to die for our country,” he told AFP.

“This current situation is worse (than the past regime). So do we stay under this condition or do we fight?  This time we must fight to win. We believe that fighting together with the young generation will get us the victory.”

On Saturday, state-run media announced that if civil servants continued to boycott work, “they will be fired” with immediate effect from March 8. The junta is pushing for banks to reopen Monday.

But demonstrators insist they will continue to defy authorities over the next two days.

Police and soldiers Sunday in the Yangon district of San Chaung were removing makeshifts barricades and using sound bombs and tear gas to disperse protesters.

In Yangon’s North Okkalapa township, protesting took on a musical flavour with guitarists and drummers and vocalists wearing Suu Kyi tshirts, singing revolutionary songs at an impromptu concert. 

“It’s important, brothers and sisters, let us unite in unity,” the crowd sang.

While a crowd numbering in the thousands hit the streets in Mandalay — Myanmar‘s second biggest city — chanting: “don’t serve the military, get out, get out.”

Many sat on roads under umbrellas with signs saying “free our elected leaders”.

That city lost another life Saturday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which reported a 21-year-old Ko Naing Min Ko died after being shot in the leg and beaten by security forces the previous day.

The monitoring group also said people connected to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party were responsible for two deaths on Saturday morning in the Magway region – a 17-year-old youth and an NLD party official.

Meanwhile, scores of Myanmar citizens are at the border with India waiting to join about 50 others who have already crossed the frontier to flee the country’s coup turmoil, Indian officials said Saturday.

Myanmar authorities have written to their Indian counterparts requesting eight police who fled this week be sent home.

A total of 48 Myanmar nationals, have entered India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, a senior officer in the Assam Rifles paramilitary force told AFP.

“At least 85 civilians from Myanmar have been waiting at the international border to enter India,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(AFP)



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Boyfriend of Myanmar protest ‘martyr’ vows resistance


NAYPYIDAW: Hein Yar Zar grimaced as a tattoo artist etched onto his chest the features of his first love, a young protester whose death has become a symbol of resistance against Myanmar’s junta.

Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing was shot in the head during a demonstration in the capital Naypyidaw, becoming one of the coup’s first fatalities on Feb 19 after 10 days in hospital.

Her image has since become synonymous with the bloody fight to wrest power from the military, which toppled Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and knocked the country off the path of democracy last month.

READ: Protesters back on Myanmar streets after night raids by security forces

For 21-year-old Hein Yar Zar, the abrupt end to his girlfriend’s young life has filled him with resolve to keep protesting, even as he grieves.

Hein Yar Zar, the boyfriend of deceased Myanmar anti-coup protester Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, has

Hein Yar Zar, the boyfriend of deceased Myanmar anti-coup protester Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, has vowed to continue resistance. (Photo: AFP/STR)

​​​​​​​

“We had so many plans for this year. She died when her birthday was so near,” he told AFP.

“I got a tattoo of her portrait as I’m missing her – it’s a memory for us.”

Two days after she was shot, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing turned 20 while unconscious in a hospital bed – an image shared by anti-coup demonstrators as they rallied on the streets.

READ: Myanmar gunshot victim fights for life amid online hunt for shooter

Days later, a 15-metre-long banner illustrating the moment she was hit was hung off a bridge in commercial hub Yangon, with some protesters describing her as a “martyr”.

A 15 metre-long billboard banner with artwork depicting the moment Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing was shot

A 15m-long billboard banner with artwork depicting the moment Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing was shot was hung off a bridge in Yangon. (Photo: AFP/Sai Aung Main)

Her death brought scathing global condemnation of the junta, with multiple countries imposing targeted sanctions on the generals.

Today, more than 50 people have died during protests as the security forces enforce an increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

READ: UN tells Myanmar military to ‘stop murdering’ protesters

“There was nobody like her,” said Hein Yar Zar.

He showed off an inking he had done years ago on his arm – “Together forever” – a poignant reminder of their youthful optimism.

“I WILL KEEP FIGHTING”

On Feb 9, the couple were both on the front lines of a massive Naypyidaw demonstration, although separated by the crowd of protesters.

“I sent her a message, ‘Please call me back,’ because I had no credit on my phone, but she never did,” said Hein Yar Zar, who heard the news of her shooting from her sister.

“I stayed beside her at the hospital and I prayed every day that she would get better.”

Thousands lined the route of the funeral procession to pay tribute to Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing in

Thousands lined the route of the funeral procession to pay tribute to Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing in Myanmar’s capital. (Photo: AFP/STR)

The military initially said it was investigating her death, but state media later reported that an autopsy of her body showed the bullet was not fired by police officers.

READ: Body of ‘Everything will be OK’ protester exhumed in Myanmar

Since her death, Hein Yar Zar’s life has been separated into moments filled with grief, anger and resolve.

Showing an earlier tattoo – “17.11.2015”, which commemorates their first date five years ago – he vowed to never forget her.

“She gave her life for this revolution – as her boyfriend, I will keep doing it for her,” he said.

“I will keep fighting for this revolution to win.”



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Myanmar forces make night raids after breaking up protests


YANGON: Myanmar security forces fired gunshots as they carried out overnight raids in the main city Yangon after breaking up the latest protests against last month’s coup with teargas and stun grenades.

The Southeast Asian country has been plunged into turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1. Daily demonstrations and strikes have choked business and paralysed administration.

There were sporadic protests across Myanmar on Saturday and local media reported that police fired tear gas shells and stun grenades to break up a protest in the Sanchaung district of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. There were no reports of casualties.

Late at night, residents said soldiers and police moved into several districts of Yangon, firing shots.

They arrested at least three people in the Kyauktada Township, residents there said. They did not know the reason for the arrests.

“They are asking to take out my father and brother. Is no one going to help us? Don’t you even touch my father and brother. Take us too if you want to take them,” one woman screamed as two of them, an actor and his son, were led off.

READ: Body of ‘Everything will be OK’ protester exhumed in Myanmar

Soldiers also came looking for a lawyer who worked for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), but were unable to find him, a member of the now dissolved parliament, Sithu Maung, said in a Facebook post.

Reuters was unable to reach police for comment. A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.

ARRESTS AND DEAD

Well over 1,500 people have been arrested under the junta, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group. This association and the United Nations say that more than 50 protesters have been killed.

Myanmar authorities said on Saturday they had exhumed the body of 19-year-old Kyal Sin, who has become an icon of the protest movement after she was shot dead in the city of Mandalay on Wednesday wearing a T-shirt that read “Everything will be OK”.

State-run MRTV said a surgical investigation showed she could not have been killed by police because the wrong sort of projectile was found in her head and she had been shot from behind, whereas police were in front.

Photographs on the day showed her head turned away from security forces moments before she was killed. Opponents of the coup accused authorities of an attempted cover-up.

READ: Protests, tear gas in Myanmar day after UN envoy urges action

READ: Myanmar asks India to return eight police who fled across border

The killings have drawn anger in the West and have also been condemned by most democracies in Asia. The United States and some other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the junta. China, meanwhile, has said the priority should be stability and that other countries should not interfere.

Protesters demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the respect of November’s election, which her party won in landslide, but which the army rejected. The army has said it will hold democratic elections at an unspecified date.

Israeli-Canadian lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe, hired by Myanmar’s junta, told Reuters the generals are keen to leave politics and seek to improve relations with the United States and distance themselves from China.

He said Aung San Suu Kyi had grown too close to China for the generals’ liking.

“There’s a real push to move towards the West and the United States as opposed to trying to get closer to the Chinese,” Ben-Menashe said. “They want to get out of politics completely … but it’s a process.”

READ: Scores of Myanmar citizens waiting to enter India: Officials

Ben-Menashe said he also had been tasked with seeking Arab support for a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom were driven from Myanmar in 2017 in an army crackdown after rebel attacks.

Junta leader and army chief Min Aung Hlaing had been under Western sanctions even before the coup for his role in the operation, which UN investigators said had been carried out with “genocidal intent”.



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Myanmar forces make night raids after breaking up protests


YANGON: Myanmar security forces fired gunshots as they carried out overnight raids in the main city Yangon after breaking up the latest protests against last month’s coup with teargas and stun grenades.

The Southeast Asian country has been plunged into turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1. Daily demonstrations and strikes have choked business and paralysed administration.

There were sporadic protests across Myanmar on Saturday and local media reported that police fired tear gas shells and stun grenades to break up a protest in the Sanchaung district of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. There were no reports of casualties.

Late at night, residents said soldiers and police moved into several districts of Yangon, firing shots.

They arrested at least three people in the Kyauktada Township, residents there said. They did not know the reason for the arrests.

“They are asking to take out my father and brother. Is no one going to help us? Don’t you even touch my father and brother. Take us too if you want to take them,” one woman screamed as two of them, an actor and his son, were led off.

READ: Body of ‘Everything will be OK’ protester exhumed in Myanmar

Soldiers also came looking for a lawyer who worked for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), but were unable to find him, a member of the now dissolved parliament, Sithu Maung, said in a Facebook post.

Reuters was unable to reach police for comment. A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.

ARRESTS AND DEAD

Well over 1,500 people have been arrested under the junta, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group. This association and the United Nations say that more than 50 protesters have been killed.

Myanmar authorities said on Saturday they had exhumed the body of 19-year-old Kyal Sin, who has become an icon of the protest movement after she was shot dead in the city of Mandalay on Wednesday wearing a T-shirt that read “Everything will be OK”.

State-run MRTV said a surgical investigation showed she could not have been killed by police because the wrong sort of projectile was found in her head and she had been shot from behind, whereas police were in front.

Photographs on the day showed her head turned away from security forces moments before she was killed. Opponents of the coup accused authorities of an attempted cover-up.

READ: Protests, tear gas in Myanmar day after UN envoy urges action

READ: Myanmar asks India to return eight police who fled across border

The killings have drawn anger in the West and have also been condemned by most democracies in Asia. The United States and some other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the junta. China, meanwhile, has said the priority should be stability and that other countries should not interfere.

Protesters demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the respect of November’s election, which her party won in landslide, but which the army rejected. The army has said it will hold democratic elections at an unspecified date.

Israeli-Canadian lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe, hired by Myanmar’s junta, told Reuters the generals are keen to leave politics and seek to improve relations with the United States and distance themselves from China.

He said Aung San Suu Kyi had grown too close to China for the generals’ liking.

“There’s a real push to move towards the West and the United States as opposed to trying to get closer to the Chinese,” Ben-Menashe said. “They want to get out of politics completely … but it’s a process.”

READ: Scores of Myanmar citizens waiting to enter India: Officials

Ben-Menashe said he also had been tasked with seeking Arab support for a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom were driven from Myanmar in 2017 in an army crackdown after rebel attacks.

Junta leader and army chief Min Aung Hlaing had been under Western sanctions even before the coup for his role in the operation, which UN investigators said had been carried out with “genocidal intent”.



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Scores of Myanmar citizens waiting to enter India: Officials


GUWAHATI, India: Scores of Myanmar nationals have gathered at the border with India waiting to join about 50 who have already crossed the frontier to flee the country’s coup turmoil, Indian officials said Saturday (Mar 6).

Myanmar authorities have meanwhile asked India to send back eight police who fled this week.

Forty-eight Myanmar nationals, including the eight police, have entered India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, a senior officer in the Assam Rifles paramilitary force told AFP.

“At least 85 civilians from Myanmar have been waiting at the international border to enter India,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

READ: Myanmar asks India to return eight police who fled across border

Anti-coup demonstrations have spread across Myanmar since a Feb 1 putsch ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Security forces have escalated a brutal crackdown on protesters, killing more than 50 people.

Indian media reports said those who have crossed the border include police and local officials who refused to follow military orders.

Myanmar has sent a letter, seen by AFP, asking for the eight police to be quicky sent back.

The letter was sent to officials in Mizoram’s Champhai district where some of the refugees are.

“In order to uphold friendly relations between the two neighbour countries, you are kindly requested to detain eight Myanmar police personnel who had arrived to Indian territories and hand-over to Myanmar,” the letter said.

READ: Protests, tear gas in Myanmar day after UN envoy urges action

Indian government officials said the letter was being studied along with the cases of those who have crossed the border.

India, which has sought to build closer ties with Myanmar in order to counter China’s influence, has not condemned the coup but the country’s UN ambassador TS Tirumurti this week said that Myanmar’s democratic gains of recent years “should not get undermined.”



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Myanmar Writes to Mizoram Govt, Seeks Handover of 8 Cops Who Fled Coup-hit Country


Myanmar has requested the administration in Mizoram to send back eight policemen, who have apparently crossed over to the northeastern state to take refuge, following last month’s military coup in the neighbouring country, an official here said. Mizoram shares a 510-km-long porous border with Myanmar, where mass demonstrations are being held in protest against the declaration of a year-long emergency by the country’s armed forces.

According to Maria CT Zuali, the deputy commissioner in Champai district, her counterpart in Myanmar’s Falam has sought the ”handover of eight police personnel who fled the neighbouring country and entered India”. ”I have received a letter from the deputy commissioner of Falam district in Myanmar seeking the detainment and handover of eight police personnel to Naypyitaw as a friendly gesture,” Zuali told.



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UN envoy urges Security Council to take action against Myanmar’s junta



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Myanmar security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to break up a protest in Yangon on Saturday, just hours after a United Nations special envoy called on the Security Council to take action against the ruling junta for the killings of protesters. 

The Southeast Asian country has been plunged in turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with daily protests and strikes that have choked business and paralysed administration.

Sporadic protests were staged across Myanmar on Saturday and local media reported that police fired tear gas shells and stun grenades to break up a protest in the Sanchaung district of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. There were no reports of casualties.

More than 50 protesters have been killed since the coup, according to the United Nations – at least 38 on Wednesday alone. Protesters demand the release of Suu Kyi and the respect of November’s election, which her party won in landslide, but which the army rejected.

“How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?” Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Friday, according to a copy of her remarks reviewed by Reuters.

“It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.”

A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.

The army says it has been restrained in stopping the protests, but has said it will not allow them to threaten stability.

Several hundred people gathered in Sydney on Saturday to protest against the coup, singing and holding up three fingers, a salute that has come to symbolise solidarity and resistance across Myanmar.

“We would like to urge the Australian government to work closely with the U.S., UK and EU governments and take strong action against these Myanmar military dictators,” said protest organiser Thein Moe Win.

In Myanmar’s southern town of Dawei, protesters chanted “Democracy is our cause” and “The revolution must prevail”.

>> ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ blends Asian discontents – but how strong is the brew?

People have taken to Myanmar’s streets in their hundreds of thousands at times, vowing to continue action in a country that spent nearly half a century under military rule until democratic reforms in 2011 that were cut short by the coup.

“Political hope has begun to shine. We can’t lose the momentum of the revolution,” one protest leader, Ei Thinzar Maung, wrote on Facebook. “Those who dare to fight will have victory. We deserve victory.”

Grave disturbed

On Friday night, authorities disturbed the grave of a 19-year-old woman who became an icon of the protest movement after she was shot dead wearing a T-shirt that read “Everything will be OK”, a witness and local media said.

One witness said the body of Kyal Sin, widely known as Angel, was removed on Friday, examined and returned, before the tomb was re-sealed in Myanmar’s second city of Mandalay. The independent Mizzima news service also reported the event.

A military spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment. Reuters was unable to contact police for comment.

The killing of protesters has drawn international outrage.

“Use of violence against the people of Myanmar must stop now,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a tweet, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other detainees and for the restoration of democracy.

The United States and some other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the junta and the independent U.N. human rights investigator on Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has called for a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions.

The army took power over allegations of fraud in last year’s election which had been dismissed by the electoral commission.

It has promised to hold a new election at an unspecified date.

That plan is rejected by protesters and by a group representing lawmakers elected at the last election that has begun to issue statements in the name of a rival civilian administration.

On Friday, it listed four demands – the end of the junta, the release of the detainees, democracy and the abolition of the 2008 constitution which left significant political representation and control in the hands of the military.

A civil disobedience campaign of strikes running parallel with the protests has been supported by many government workers including a trickle of policemen.

Authorities in Myanmar have asked India to return eight policemen who sought refuge across the border to avoid taking orders from the junta, an official in northeast India said on Saturday.

India’s foreign ministry responded to a request for comment by referring to a statement given at a media briefing on Friday which said the ministry was still “ascertaining the facts.”

(REUTERS)



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Myanmar asks India to return eight police who fled across border


NEW DELHI: Authorities in Myanmar have asked India to return several police officers who have sought refuge to avoid taking orders from a military junta that seized power in the Southeast Asian country last month, an official in northeast India said on Saturday (Mar 6).

Around 30 Myanmar police and their family members came across the border seeking refuge in recent days, as the junta’s suppression of protesters turned increasingly violent, with dozens killed since the Feb 1 coup.

The senior-most official in Champhai, a district in the Indian state of Mizoram, told Reuters that she had received a letter from her counterpart in Myanmar’s Falam district requesting the return of eight police “in order to uphold friendly relations”.

READ: Commentary – With violent crackdowns, is Myanmar passing the point of no return?

READ: Commentary – Myanmar protesters play cat and mouse as military shuts down online platforms

Deputy Commissioner Maria CT Zuali told Reuters on Saturday that she was “waiting for the direction” from the India’s Ministry for Home Affairs in New Delhi.

Although there have been instances recounted on social media of police joining the civil disobedience movement and protests against the junta, this is the first reported case of police fleeing Myanmar.

In the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, Myanmar authorities said they had information on eight police personnel who had crossed into India. The letter listed details for four police, aged between 22 and 25 years, including a female officer.

READ: UN expert urges ‘global arms embargo’, sanctions on Myanmar

“In order to uphold friendly relations between the two neighbour countries, you are kindly requested to detain 8 Myanmar police personnel who had arrived to Indian territories and hand-over to Myanmar,” the letter said.

India’s federal home ministry and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters.



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Protests, tear gas in Myanmar day after UN envoy urges action


YANGON: Security forces in Myanmar again used force Saturday (Mar 6) to disperse anti-coup protesters, a day after the UN special envoy urged the Security Council to take action to quell junta violence that this week left about 50 demonstrators dead and scores injured.

Fresh protests were reported Saturday morning in the biggest city of Yangon, where stun grenades and tear gas were used against protesters. On Wednesday, 18 people were reported killed there.

Protests were also reported in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern state of Kachin, Myeik, in the country’s far south where police fired tear gas at students, and Dawei in the southeast where tear gas was also used. 

Myanmar

Protesters are dispersed as riot police fire tear gas in Tharkata Township, on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, Mar 6. (AP Photo)

Other places included Kyaikto, in the eastern state of Mon, Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state in eastern Myanmar, and Myingyan, a city where one protester was killed on Wednesday.

READ: UN tells Myanmar military to ‘stop murdering’ protesters

The escalation of violence has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta, which seized power on Feb 1 by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party led a return to civilian rule with a landslide election victory in 2015, and with an even greater margin of votes last year. 

It would have taken a second five-year term of office last month, but instead she and President Win Myint and other members of her government were placed in military detention.

READ: Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi seen in court for the first time since coup

Large protests have occurred daily across many cities and towns. Security forces responded with greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. 

Myanmar

Riot police move in to disperse protesters in Tharkata Township, in Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, Mar 6. (AP Photo)

At least 18 protesters were shot and killed last Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the UN Human Rights Office. 

More than 1,000 have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.

READ: Commentary: Myanmar protesters play cat and mouse as military shuts down online platforms

UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said in her briefing to Friday’s closed Security Council meeting that council unity and “robust” action are critical “in pushing for a stop to the violence and the restoration of Myanmar’s democratic institutions”.

“We must denounce the actions by the military,” she said. 

“It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.”

She reiterated an earlier appeal to the international community not to “lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime that has been forcefully imposed and nothing but chaos has since followed”.

READ: Myanmar army is ‘surprised’ at opposition to coup: UN envoy

Myanmar

Demonstrators wearing helmet and face mask march during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, Saturday, Mar 6. (AP Photo)

The Security Council took no immediate action. Council diplomats said Britain circulated a draft presidential statement for consideration, a step below a legally binding resolution.

Any kind of coordinated action at the UN will be difficult because two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, are likely to veto it.

Schraner Burgener earlier this week warned Myanmar’s army that the world’s nations and the Security Council “might take huge, strong measures”.

“And the answer was, ‘We are used to sanctions, and we survived those sanctions in the past,’” she said. When she warned that Myanmar would become isolated, Schraner Burgener said “the answer was, ‘We have to learn to walk with only a few friends’”.

Myanmar

A demonstrator makes the three finger salute during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, Saturday, Mar 6. (AP Photo)

READ: Commentary: With violent crackdowns, is Myanmar passing the point of no return?

READ: Peaceful resolution in Myanmar still possible if all sides can have genuine dialogue: Balakrishnan

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies urged immediate protection for all Red Cross volunteers and health workers.

The statement came after video from a surveillance camera that was circulated widely on social media showed members of an ambulance crew in Yangon being savagely beaten after they were taken into custody by police on Wednesday.

“We express profound sadness that Myanmar Red Cross volunteers have been injured while on duty providing lifesaving first aid treatment to wounded people, in line with fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Red Cross volunteers should never be targeted,” the federation said.



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