Burma: junta warns protesters they risk dying

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The Burmese junta has toughened its tone after a weekend of bloody violence by warning protesters they risked death, which did not deter thousands of people from taking to the streets on Monday.

• Read also: Burma: funeral of a young demonstrator in the aftermath of the deadliest violence

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• Read also: Burma: police shoot at demonstrators, two dead and thirty wounded

Three weeks after the putsch of February 1, pro-democracy mobilization does not weaken with tens of thousands of demonstrators on Sunday, and a campaign of civil disobedience that disrupts the functioning of the state and the economy.

The junta’s warning on Sunday 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 a third in Yangon.

“The demonstrators are urging people, especially the exalted adolescents and young people, to embark on the path of confrontation where they will perish,” said a statement in Burmese read on the public channel MRTV, and including an English translation appeared on the screen.

The text warned the demonstrators against the temptation to incite the population to “riot and anarchy”.

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

“So mad”

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

In the district of Bahan, for example, demonstrators were seated on the roadway holding up numerous banners in support of the former head of the civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held incommunicado since his 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 worried about the crackdown but we will continue. We are so angry ”.

The residents of Rangon 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 (north) and Dawei (south).

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 10 days in intensive care, took place in the outskirts of the capital Naypyidaw, in the presence of several thousand people.

EU meeting

To the massive protests against their coup, the Burmese military responded by gradually stepping up the deployment of 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 9:00 a.m. But the cut on Monday is expected to last three hours longer.

The escalation of tensions provoked new international condemnations, denounced Sunday evening by the Burmese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “flagrant interference” in the internal affairs of the country.

“Despite the illegal demonstrations, incitement to unrest and violence, the (Burmese) authorities are showing the utmost restraint by using as little force as possible to deal with the disturbances,” the ministry said in a statement. .

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