Western diplomats warn Myanmar military that 'the world is watching'

Tanya Simon
February 16, 2021

This comes after nine straight days of mass city protests.

The soldiers and police then attacked the protesters with sticks, and police could be seen aiming long guns into the air amid sounds that resembled gunfire. Videos of such raids have been widely posted on social media. Police also were seen pointing guns toward protesters.

The United Nations human rights office said on Friday that over 350 people, including officials, activists and monks, have been arrested in Myanmar since the coup that took place in February 1, including those who are reportedly facing criminal charges on "dubious grounds". It wasn't clear exactly how many students were rounded up, but estimates put the figure at between 20 and 40.

Protesters at an anti-coup rally in front of the Myanmar Economic Bank in Mandalay, Myanmar.

While tensions rise, the lawyer for ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she would remain in detention at least until Wednesday.

Local media outlets said at least five journalists monitoring the protest were detained and published pictures of some people wounded in the incident.

Crowds returned to the streets in parts of the country on Tuesday morning.

Myanmar's junta cut the nation's internet and deployed extra troops around the country on Monday as it intensified a crackdown on anti-coup protests, but defiant demonstrators again took to the streets.

Protesters also gathered outside the central bank, where they held signs calling for support for the civil disobedience movement.

The shutdown came after another day of protests in Yangon, in defiance of armoured vehicles and troop convoys stationed around key sections of the city - although turnout was smaller than in recent days. An armored vehicle and several trucks carrying soldiers were parked nearby.

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar and called for the release of detained leaders including Suu Kyi.

But amid the unrest, the military stands tall against all odds, defending its actions because of what it refers to as an alleged fraud in a November election during which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party secured a landslide victory, the complaints which were however dismissed by the country's electoral commission.

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On Monday, more than a dozen police trucks with four water cannon vehicles were deployed near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, which has been one of the main centres for protests in the commercial capital.

The coup has halted a tentative transition to the country's democracy that began in 2011 after almost half a century of isolation and stagnation under military juntas.

The country's new military leadership has so far been unmoved by a torrent of worldwide condemnation.

It is just one of many parts of the charter that ensured the military could maintain ultimate control over the country it ruled for 50 years following a 1962 coup.

"About seven police officers searched for about 30 minutes (for two MPs)", NLD member Soe Win told AFP after the security forces left without finding them. "Social media is very quiet now", she tweeted ON Monday.

Protesters hold placards and shout slogans on Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar.

A large banner with an image of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces rows of policemen blocking the road in Yangon, Myanmar.

The UN envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, spoke with the deputy commander of the Myanmar army, Soe Win, and warned that "network blackouts undermine core democratic principles", UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said in NY.

The UN envoy also reiterated Guterres' call to ensure the right to peaceful assembly and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals, Haq said.

In the latest sign of disruption by workers, the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement many staff had stopped coming to work since February 8, causing flight delays.

"Some 15 embassies including those of the European Union and Britain issued a statement late on February 15 calling on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government".

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