Burma: the junta continues its repression in an attempt to end the anti-coup uprising

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Burmese generals on Tuesday imposed a near-total shutdown of the internet for a second night in a row and are continuing their waves of arrests in an attempt to put an end to the popular uprising against their coup, ignoring international condemnations.

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Deployments of armored vehicles, night arrests, hardening of the legislative arsenal: the army has continued to toughen its tone since its putsch of February 1, which ended a fragile 10-year democratic transition in the country.

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Some 420 people – politicians, doctors, activists, students, strikers – have been arrested in the past two weeks, according to an NGO helping political prisoners.

The former de facto head of the civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the President of the Republic, Win Myint, arrested in the early hours of the coup, are still kept in secrecy.

They are expected to be questioned this week by a court “by videoconference,” lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said, adding that he was unable to get in touch with his clients.


This hearing will not be fair, commented to AFP Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur. “There is nothing fair about the junta. It’s theater. It’s just theater. And of course, no one believes them ”.

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was indicted for breaking an obscure trade rule by “illegally” importing walkie-talkies. She is under house arrest in the administrative capital Naypyidaw and is said to be in good health, her party, the National League for Democracy (LND), said last weekend.

The generals continue to attack communication tools.

Internet connections were almost completely cut off across the country on Tuesday around 1 a.m. (6.30 p.m. GMT), for the fourth time since the putsch. They were restored eight hours later.

These disruptions undermine “fundamental democratic principles,” said United Nations envoy for Burma Christine Schraner Burgener in a telephone interview with Soe Win, deputy commander of the Burmese army.

The cuts are also harming “key sectors, including banks,” she added in this rare exchange between the junta and the outside world.

“Give us hope”

Despite the repression, pro-democracy mobilization continues.

Several hundred demonstrators marched Tuesday in Rangoon, the economic capital. “Give us back our leaders!”, “Give us hope!” Read on the banners.

The protesters also urged residents to join the civil disobedience movement. Lawyers, teachers, air traffic controllers, railway workers: many officials have responded to this call across the country by going on strike since the putsch.

After the deployment of troops in some cities of the country, supported by armored vehicles, however, crowds were less numerous in the streets.

“It’s done to threaten people,” lamented Nyein Moe who was demonstrating in front of the Central Bank in Yangon on Monday. But, “we can’t stop now”.

The police were deployed in large numbers in front of the LND headquarters on Monday, attracting several thousand people to the scene. Police officers searched the premises, according to the party.

The protests are so far generally peaceful, but several incidents were reported on Monday.

Police arrested several dozen protesters, including around 20 students, in Naypyidaw, before releasing some.

In Mandalay (center), the second largest city in the country, a clash between demonstrators and the police left at least six injured. Police fired rubber bullets and slingshots at the crowd, with protesters responding by throwing bricks.

Journalists at the scene also said police beat them.

The army, which has two major supporters at the United Nations (Beijing and Moscow), turns a deaf ear to the multiple international condemnations and the sanctions announced by Washington.

Since then, the putschist generals, who contest the regularity of the November legislative elections, which were won overwhelmingly by the NLD, have authorized searches without a warrant or detention for a short period without the green light from a judge.

For their leader, Min Aung Hlaing, an international pariah due to the abuses committed against Rohingya Muslims in 2017, what is happening in Burma remains “an internal affair”.