Burmese security forces have acted decisively to violently prevent opponents of the military government from rallying, after the country’s own envoy to the United Nations urged the world body to use “all means necessary” to arrest the leaders of the February 1 coup.
The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military seized power and arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in November elections that his party had won by a landslide.
Uncertainty has grown over Aung San Suu Kyi’s whereabouts, as the independent Myanmar Now website quoted officials from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Friday as saying she had been transferred this week from house arrest to an undisclosed location.
The coup brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets of Myanmar and drew condemnation from Western countries, with some imposing limited sanctions.
Other protests were reported on Saturday in several neighborhoods in the country’s largest city, Yangon and elsewhere, but security forces were out in force early, deployed in numbers to the usual protest sites and detaining people as they moved. were starting to gather, according to witnesses and social media. posts.
At least two media professionals were among those arrested in Yangon, witnesses told Reuters news agency.
– Cap Diamant (@cape_diamond) February 27, 2021
“They also came to arrest me but I escaped and ran away,” said another media worker who refused to be identified.
Other social media posts also showed protesters in Yangon’s Myaynigone district on Saturday morning wearing makeshift shields and wearing gas masks and safety helmets.
In another part of Yangon, demonstrators were seen fortifying some barricades in an effort to slow the advance of security forces.
In Yangon’s Sanchaung district, an image on social media showed tear gas to disperse protesters.
In Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, there were reports of police and soldiers detaining protesters.
The Irrawaddy also reported that Win Mya Mya, an NLD MP from Mandalay has been arrested.
– Soe zeya tun (@soezeya) February 27, 2021
The police action came a day after police dispersed protests in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw and other towns with rubber bullets, stun grenades and gunfire. Several people were injured.
To the United Nations General Assembly, Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun said he was speaking on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and called on the organization “to use all means necessary to take action against the Burmese army and to ensure the safety and security of the people” .
“We need the strongest possible action on the part of the international community to immediately put an end to the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent … and to restore democracy,” he said. declared to the group of 193 members, receiving applause at the end.
Kyaw Moe Tun appeared moved as he read the statement on behalf of a group of elected politicians who he said represented the legitimate government.
Delivering his last words in Burmese, the career diplomat saluted the pro-democracy demonstrators with three fingers and announced that “our cause will prevail”.
Opponents of the coup have hailed Kyaw Moe Tun as a hero and flooded social media with messages of thanks.
“The people will win and the power-obsessed junta will fall,” one protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung wrote on Facebook.
UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener urged the United Nations for a “collective clear signal for democracy”, telling the General Assembly that no country should recognize or legitimize the military government.
The Chinese envoy did not criticize the coup and said the situation fell within Myanmar’s “internal affairs”, saying he supported the diplomacy of Southeast Asian countries, including protesters fear it could lend credibility to the generals in power.
Singapore has said violence against unarmed civilians is inexcusable.
“Loss of rights”
A lawyer acting for Aung San Suu Kyi, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters he also heard from NLD officials that she had been moved from her home in the capital, Naypyidaw, but could not confirm this. Authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawyer said he did not have access to Aung San Suu Kyi until his next hearing on Monday, adding, “I fear that the rights of access to justice and access to a lawyer will be lost. “
Protesters demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, and recognition of last year’s election result.
The military leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, said the authorities were using minimal force. However, at least three protesters died. The military says a policeman was also killed.
At least 771 people are in custody or have outstanding charges brought against them since the coup, according to the Myanmar Political Prisoner Assistance Association.