Friday, February 26, 2021

Burmese junta warns protesters risk dying


The power’s warning did not deter protesters from taking to the streets of Yangon, where thousands were gathered on Monday.

The Burmese junta has toughened its tone after a weekend of bloody violence, warning protesters they risk losing their lives. Three weeks after the putsch of February 1, the pro-democracy mobilization does not show any signs of weakness. Tens of thousands of protesters protested on Sunday, and the civil disobedience campaign is disrupting state operations and the economy.

The junta’s warning on Sunday February 21 came the day after the deadliest day since the coup, with two people dying on Saturday in Mandalay when police fired on the crowd, and one third in Rangoon. “The demonstrators are urging people, especially the excited adolescents and young people, to embark on the path of confrontation where they will perish”, indicated a statement in Burmese read on the public channel MRTV, and of which an English translation appeared on the screen. The text warned the demonstrators against the temptation to incite the population to “Riot and anarchy”.

We are concerned about the crackdown, but we will continue. We are so angry. “

Kyaw Kyaw, 23-year-old Burmese student

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, Tom Andrews, said he was deeply concerned by these threats. “Warning to the junta: unlike 1988, the actions of the security forces are recorded and you will have to answer”, he tweeted.

“We are worried about the repression but we continue”

The power’s warning did not deter protesters from taking to the streets of Rangoon, where thousands of people gathered on Monday February 22 in two neighborhoods. In the Bahan neighborhood, demonstrators sat on the pavement, waving numerous banners in support of former civilian government chief Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held incommunicado since her arrest on February 1. “We are here today to participate in the protest, to fight until we win, said Kyaw Kyaw, a 23-year-old student. We are concerned about the crackdown, but we will continue. We are so angry ”.

The residents of Yangon have seen a strengthening of security arrangements in the capital, with a number of police and army trucks in the streets, while streets near the neighborhood had been barricaded by the security forces. Markets and stores should remain closed in solidarity with the pro democracy movement. Demonstrations also took place in the towns of Myitkyina and Dawei.

On Sunday, the Burmese paid tribute to the first victim of military repression, a young grocer who became an icon of the anti-junta resistance. The funeral of Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, shot in the head and died Friday after ten days in intensive care, took place in the outskirts of the capital Naypyidaw, in the presence of several thousand people.

640 arrests since the putsch

To the massive protests against their coup, the Burmese military responded by gradually stepping up the deployment of the security forces, and increasingly using force to disperse the protesters. Rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons … the security services sometimes even resorted to live ammunition. According to the Association for Aid to Political Prisoners, 640 people have been arrested since the putsch. Among those targeted are railway workers, civil servants and bank employees who have stopped working in solidarity with the opposition to the junta.

It also attacked communications by drastically restricting access to the Internet overnight from Sunday to Monday, for the eighth consecutive night, according to NetBlocks, a specialized observatory located in the United Kingdom. Connections are usually reestablished at 9 a.m. But the cut on Monday is expected to last three hours longer.

The escalation of tensions prompted new international condemnations, denounced Sunday evening by the Burmese Foreign Ministry as a “Flagrant interference” in the internal affairs of the country. “Despite the illegal demonstrations, the incitement to unrest and violence, the authorities (Burmese) exercise the greatest restraint by using as little force as possible to deal with disturbances ”, the ministry said in a statement.

European Union foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss possible sanctions.

SEE ALSO – In Burma, demonstrators carry out the funeral of the first victim of military repression



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