Coup in Myanmar: As armored army autos roll onto the streets, protesters return for day 10

Over the weekend, the military escalated its crackdown on dissent. Security forces in the country’s northern Kachin state shot at protesters at a power plant Sunday after a crowd gathered there who believed the military would turn off the power, according to social media video and local reports.

During the confrontation, which was broadcast live on Facebook, soldiers and police officers fired shots in the state capital, Myitkyina, to disperse protesters, although it is unclear whether rubber bullets or live rounds were used. The video shows security guards using water cannons and protesters fleeing while several rounds of fire can be heard. Five journalists were reportedly arrested while covering the incident.

Suu Kyi’s detention, which expires on Monday, will be extended until a trial on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing her lawyer.

“We came here to submit our power of attorney letter to discuss with the district judge. According to him, the pre-trial detention is until the 17th, not today,” Khin Maung Zaw told reporters. He added that he still couldn’t see Suu Kyi, Reuters reported.

Western diplomats on Sunday warned the Myanmar junta that “the world is watching” and advised the military not to use force against demonstrators.

“We call on the security forces not to use violence against protesters and civilians who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” said a joint statement by the US, Canada and the European Union posted on the official Facebook pages of their messages.

The statement condemned the arrests of civilian leaders and activists and condemned “the disruption of communications by the military and the restriction of the fundamental rights and legal protection of the Myanmar people”.

Since the takeover, hundreds of thousands of people have joined protests and campaigns against civil disobedience. People were seen on the streets in Yangon, Dawei and Myitkyina with signs reading “Civil Disobedience Movement” and “Free our Leader” banners and pictures of detained leader Suu Kyi. People also marched with signs saying, “Stop arresting people illegally at midnight.”

The protests have risen to involve people from all walks of life, including a strike by government employees as part of a mass movement of civil disobedience.

Although there have not been many reports of injuries, police have been using water cannons against demonstrators in recent days and there have been allegations of using live rounds.

A young woman named Mya Thweh Thweh Khine is in critical condition in a hospital in the capital, Naypyidaw, with a gunshot wound to the head, a source with direct information about the victim told CNN Friday. The video of the incident, shared online, shows a young woman suddenly falling to the ground while hiding in front of a water cannon during a protest. Their image has been upheld during protests as a symbol of those who oppose the coup.

In response to the protests, the military has attempted to restrict access to the internet and intelligence services, and to enact a potential new cybersecurity law that observers fear may further restrict the flow of information.

Internet and cellular services were interrupted overnight Sunday through Monday, and the surveillance NGO NetBlocks said network connectivity across the country had dropped to just 14% nationwide since 1 a.m. local time. According to the residents, the wireless services of all network operators were also disrupted.

The residents have reported a noticeable fear for their safety after dark. Many fear police will drag them out of their homes in night-time raids or fear reports of arson and crime after thousands of prisoners were released on Friday amnesty.

Protesters hold posters and slogans near City Hall on February 13, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. Reuters reported that local residents in some neighborhoods have banded together to form patrols and keep their streets safe at night.

“All the streets near me are also forming groups to defend themselves against these troublemakers,” Myo Thein, a resident of the South Okkalapa community, told Reuters.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, hundreds of people have been arrested since the coup and most have been detained without charge. The Burma Political Prisoners Aid Association (AAPPB) said at least 400 people had been detained in connection with the coup, and other reports suggested that some activists and journalists went into hiding following news of their possible arrest.

On Saturday, the military announced arrest warrants for seven high profile activists for “using their popularity on social media … to undermine the country’s peace and order,” according to the military’s Facebook page.

Among those named is leading democracy activist Min Ko Naing, an organizer of the Civil Disobedience Movement Facebook page, which has more than 200,000 followers. Min Ko Naing spent more than 20 years in prison after the 1988 Yangon Student Uprising, which was brutally suppressed by the military.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Min Ko Naing urged people to continue their campaigns against civil disobedience, saying the military had caused anger to create unrest.

“Last night we faced horrific events across the country. They are doing everything they can. They provoke our anger and use people, including the police,” he said. “This week is the most important week, this week will decide for us.”

Over the weekend, the military suspended three laws aimed at preventing security forces from arresting suspects without judicial authorization or from searching private property.

Residents and protesters are questioned by riot police as they question them following the recent arrests in Mandalay, Myanmar, on February 13, 2021.

“Sections 5, 7 and 8 will be abolished under Article 420 of the 2008 Constitution to protect the personal freedom and security of citizens,” said the Facebook page of the Myanmar army, also known as Tatmadaw, on Saturday. The statement signed by military leader General Min Aung Hlaing did not specify a date or time for the suspension.

Reuters reported that among the three suspended sections is the law, which requires a court order to detain a prisoner beyond 24 hours and restricts the ability of security forces to enter private property in order to search it or make arrests.

According to the Reuters report, the suspensions can also spy on communications.

The AAPPB said the suspensions were a means of “instilling fear of police raids into the public during the night,” as it means the Myanmar authorities can search homes without the community officials being present and unlawful acts during the inspection can be. “”

The human rights organization said these changes show how the military “violates inalienable human rights and strengthens the apparatus of repression against the public.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews warned in a tweet that the military would be held accountable for its actions.

“It is as if the generals had declared war on the people of Myanmar: nightly raids; increasing arrests; more rights withdrawn; another internet shutdown; military convoys entering communities. These are signs of desperation. Attention generals: They will held accountable.” “Said Andrews.

Reporting and writing from CNN’s Bex Wright and Helen Regan in Hong Kong, Sharif Paget and Philip Wang in Atlanta, Elizabeth Joseph in New York, and CNN staff in Myanmar.

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