Security forces fired at demonstrators in Burma on Sunday, while soldiers were being deployed, raising fears of an imminent crackdown on the protest movement against the coup.
• Read also: Burma Rohingya worried about military return
• Read also: Burma: anti-coup demonstrators in the street again, hundreds of arrests
Tanks have been sighted in Yangon, the economic capital. Deployments of soldiers have been noted in other cities, according to images posted on social networks.
We have received “indications of troop movements,” confirmed on Twitter the US Embassy in Burma, asking the Americans to stay safe.
“An interruption of telecommunications is possible tonight from 1 to 9 am” local time, she added.
In Myitkyina, in the north, several people were injured when the security forces dispersed protesters by firing, according to a local journalist.
“They fired tear gas first, then fired,” she told AFP, without being able to say whether live bullets or rubber ammunition had been used. Five journalists were arrested on this occasion, according to local media.
Reacting to this escalation of repression, the ambassadors to Burma of the United States, Canada and several European Union (EU) countries issued a joint statement on Twitter, urging the military “not to resort to violence against demonstrators and civilians ”.
The putsch of 1er February overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and ended a fragile 10-year democratic transition.
The fear of reprisals is on everyone’s minds in Burma, where the last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the military.
Despite this, the mobilization against the coup d’état did not weaken with civil servants (teachers, doctors, railway employees, etc.) on strike.
On Sunday, for the ninth consecutive day, the Burmese took to the streets by tens of thousands.
In Yangon, they notably gathered near the famous Shwedagon pagoda, to demand the end of the dictatorship and the release of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, held in secret since her arrest.
Near the Central Station, residents blocked a street with tree trunks to prevent police from entering the neighborhood. They then escorted police officers who were looking for striking railway workers to force them back to work.
In Dawei (south), seven police officers announced they were defecting, while local media reported similar cases in recent days.
Hunt for “fugitives”
The army, for its part, has released a list of seven of Burma’s most renowned activists, whom it is actively seeking for encouraging the protests.
“If you find the fugitives mentioned above or have any information about them, report to the nearest police station,” she wrote in a statement released to state media. “Those who host them will be [confrontés] to actions in accordance with the law ”.
Since the putsch, some 400 people have been arrested, including politicians, activists and members of civil society, including journalists, doctors and students.
On the list of the seven “fugitives” is the name of Min Ko Naing, a leader of the student movement from 1988, who has already spent more than 10 years in prison.
“They arrest people at night and we have to be careful,” he said hours before his arrest warrant was issued.
“They could crack down with force and we will have to be prepared,” he added in a video posted on Facebook, despite the junta’s ban on using this platform.
The head of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing, on Saturday endowed the police with exceptional powers. They can carry out searches without a warrant or detain people for a short period without the authorization of a judge.
In reaction to the arrests, citizen vigilance committees have spontaneously sprung up across Burma: residents are tasked with monitoring their neighborhood in the event of operations carried out by the authorities to arrest opponents.
“We don’t trust anyone at the moment, especially not those who wear uniforms,” said Myo Ko Ko, a member of a street patrol in a central Yangon neighborhood.
Some Burmese also fear that the mass release this week of more than 23,000 prisoners by the army has been orchestrated to stir up trouble by releasing unsavory individuals while making room in prisons for inmates. policies.
The situation has been the subject of numerous international condemnations for the past two weeks, with Washington detailing a series of sanctions against several generals.
The latter contest the regularity of the November elections, which were won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy (LND), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
They claim to have taken power while respecting the Constitution and have ordered journalists to stop talking about a “coup”.
Indicted for illegally importing walkie-talkies, Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest in Naypyidaw, the administrative capital, and is in good health, according to her party.
Burma has already lived under the yoke of the military for almost 50 years since its independence in 1948.