Tuesday, February 23, 2021

United States, EU, G7: pressure against the Burmese junta is mounting


The junta responsible for the coup in Burma was under more pressure than ever on Tuesday with a condemnation from the G7. This in the wake of the adoption by the United States and the EU of new sanctions and demonstrations among the most massive since the putsch.

For three weeks, the Burmese authorities have not stopped stepping up the use of force in order to weaken the pro-democracy mobilization. So far, three protesters have been killed, as a man who was patrolling to avoid mass arrests in his neighborhood in Yangon was shot dead.

‘The use of live ammunition against unarmed people is unacceptable,’ foreign ministers from the G7, the seven greatest powers on the planet, also signed by the European Union said in a statement Tuesday.

“Anyone who responds to peaceful protests with violence must be held accountable,” they said, calling on the Burmese security forces to “respect human rights and international law”.

Executives under sanctions

On the night of Monday to Tuesday, the United States announced sanctions against two other leaders of the Burmese military junta which overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi, General Maung Maung Kyaw, at the head of the Air Force, and Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun.

A round of similar measures had already been announced by Washington ten days ago, targeting several leaders of the junta, including its leader, General Min Aung Hlaing.

“We will not hesitate to take new measures against those who commit acts of violence and suppress the will of the people,” warned the head of US diplomacy Antony Blinken.

The announcement came hours after the EU’s decision to take sanctions against the economic and financial interests of the military responsible for the coup. ‘All direct financial aid (…) to government reform programs is suspended,’ said European diplomat Josep Borrell.

Real bullets

These sanctions come after the Burmese army used rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons and sometimes even live ammunition against protesters.

It has also deployed more security forces in the streets of Rangoon, the economic capital of the country. To prevent protesters from assembling, barricades were set up.

Nightly internet shutdowns ordered by the junta raise fears that the authorities will take advantage of them to carry out mass arrests of pro-democracy activists. On Tuesday, the protests continued, although Yangon experienced less mobilization than in previous days.

See ‘the dethroned dictator’

In the town of Myitkyina, in northern Kachin state – where violence erupted over the weekend – protesters raced through the town on motorcycles waving the Burmese flag and saluting with three fingers, a symbol resistance.

In Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, a gathered crowd attended the funeral of Thet Naing Win, a 37-year-old man who was shot dead on Saturday when security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters.

“I ask everyone to help ensure that my husband’s case is brought to justice,” said his widow Thidar Hnin, adding that she wanted to see “the dictator dethroned”.

Hundreds of arrests

Calls to stop working have severely disrupted government, business and banking activities. The power had brandished Sunday the threat to use lethal force to end ‘anarchy’.

Since the putsch, more than 680 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced according to an NGO providing assistance to political prisoners. Almost all of them are still behind bars.

Malaysia expels Burmese

Malaysia proceeded Tuesday in this context to the deportation to Burma of a thousand migrants, despite a judgment ordering it to suspend this controversial transfer.

/ ATS





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