Burma: round of applause to challenge the junta

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Burmese on Monday applauded the many armed ethnic factions that took a stand against the junta, the latest sign of defiance of the military regime and its murderous repression.

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More than 560 civilians have been killed by security forces since the February 1 coup that overthrew the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The toll could be much heavier: some 2,700 people have been arrested. Many, held incommunicado, without access to their relatives or to a lawyer, are missing.

Despite this, pro-democracy mobilization continues, with tens of thousands of workers on strike and entire sectors of the economy paralyzed.

To escape reprisals, protesters find new solutions every day.

On Monday, they launched an appeal asking the Burmese to applaud the ethnic rebellions that support them.

Women, dressed in their traditional skirts, took to the streets of Sagaing (center) and applauded five minutes without interruption, according to images posted on social networks. Other similar movements have taken place across the country.

Burma: round of applause to challenge the junta

The day before, ten of the main armed factions, which had signed a ceasefire with the army from 2015, gave their support to the civil disobedience movement.

Suspended agreement

“The peace process has been violated by the military,” General Yawd Serk, who heads one of the rebellions, the Shan State Restoration Council, told AFP on Monday.

“We are not saying that the national ceasefire agreement is broken – it is suspended,” he added, deploring the bloodshed against civilians.

On Monday, a 25-year-old man was shot dead and six others injured in Pinlebu, in the north of the country.

Acts of torture have also been reported.

“They burned my arm (who bore a tattoo of Aung San Suu Kyi, Editor’s note) with a piece of tire while a soldier held me down,” a 20-year-old told AFP.

Two soldiers were killed on Sunday in a bomb explosion in Tamu, near the border with India.

Protesters took to the streets again on Monday, as in Mandalay (center) where they urged the international community to come to their aid.

But the latter remains divided. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have sanctioned the regime, but China and Russia, traditional allies of the Burmese army, categorically reject such an assumption.

Two Australian nationals detained since the end of March have been released and left Yangon.

A third Australian, economist and university professor Sean Turnell, adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, remains in detention. He is accused, like Aung San Suu Kyi, of having violated a law on state secrets dating from the colonial era.

The former leader is also targeted by other charges, including corruption.