Category Archives: South-East Asia – Myanmar (Burma)

Facebook ban Military accounts in support of Myanmar protesters.

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Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.

Facebook said it has banned all remaining accounts linked to the Myanmar military on Thursday, citing the junta’s use of deadly force against anti-coup demonstrators.

The move, which takes effect immediately, applies to the military and entities controlled by the armed forces on both Facebook and Instagram.

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It also bans “military-linked commercial entities” from advertising on the platforms.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” the social media giant said in a statement.

“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” it added, using the Myanmar name for the country’s armed forces.

The junta has steadily increased its use of force against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding Myanmar’s army leaders relinquish power.

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Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead.

Facebook said its ban was intended to prevent Myanmar’s generals “from abusing our platform”.

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The military has used Facebook to boost its claims that voter fraud marred an election last November after ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.

Since seizing power, the junta has arrested hundreds of anti-coup protesters, ordered nightly internet blackouts and banned social media platforms — including Facebook — in an effort to quell resistance.

Thursday’s announcement follows Facebook’s earlier decision to kick off a page run by the regime’s “True News” information service after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

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Pages for government offices now run by the junta remain unaffected.

“This ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services,” the company said. “This includes the Ministry of Health and Sport, and the Ministry of Education.”

In recent years, hundreds of army-linked pages have been blocked by Facebook after the social media giant came under heavy criticism for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top brass were booted from the platform in 2018, a year after a military-led crackdown forced around 750,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim community to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

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Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.

“We can and should do more,” Facebook executive Alex Warofka said at the time.

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#Newsworthy..

Two anti-coup protesters killed hours after first death.

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One woman received a head wound from a rubber bullet and emergency workers quickly administered first aid to her.

Myanmar’s security forces fired live rounds and rubber bullets at protesters in the country’s second-largest city on Saturday, leaving at least two dead and about 30 injured.

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Much of the country has been in uproar since the military deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets to protest against the junta.

On Saturday, hundreds of police and soldiers gathered at Yadanarbon shipyard in Mandalay, by the Irrawaddy river.

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Their presence sparked fears among nearby residents that authorities would try to arrest workers for taking part in the anti-coup movement.

Banging pots and pans in what has become a signature gesture of defiance, protesters started yelling at the police to leave and throwing rocks at them.

But officers opened fire with live rounds, rubber bullets and slingshot balls, dispersing the alarmed protesters.

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“Two people were killed,” said Hlaing Min Oo, the head of a Mandalay-based volunteer emergency rescue team, adding that one of the victims was a boy shot in the head.

“About 30 others were injured half of the injured people were shot with live rounds.”

The rest were wounded from rubber bullets and slingshots, he said.

Another emergency worker on the scene confirmed the two deaths.

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“Two people died,” he told AFP, declining to be named for fear of repercussions. “One under-18 boy got shot in his head.”

Graphic video circulated on Facebook of the boy splayed on the ground and bleeding from his head as one bystander placed a hand on his chest to feel for a heartbeat.

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‘Shooting cruelly’

Around the shipyard and its surrounding neighbourhood, empty bullet cartridges were found on the ground, as well as slingshot ammunition including metal balls.

One woman received a head wound from a rubber bullet and emergency workers quickly administered first aid to her.

A Facebook video streamed live by a resident on the scene appeared to carry non-stop sounds of gunshots.

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“They are shooting cruelly,” said the resident, who appeared to be taking shelter on a nearby construction site.

“We have to find a safer place.”

Authorities have arrested hundreds of people since the putsch in early February, many of them civil servants who had been boycotting work as part of a civil disobedience campaign.

Police and soldiers in some cities have deployed tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to tackle demonstrators.

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There have been isolated incidents of live rounds being fired.

An anti-coup protester who was shot in the head during a February 9 demonstration in Naypyidaw died on Friday. Her doctors had confirmed to AFP that her injury was from a live bullet.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar’s anti-coup protest births first death.

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In the northern city of Myitkyina, a small group of protesters were forcefully dispersed by police and military wielding batons

A young protester died Friday, more than a week after being shot in anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar, offering a fresh source of anger inside the country as international pressure grows on the generals who seized power.

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Much of the country has been in open revolt since troops deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with disparate strands of Myanmar society uniting to protest against a return to military rule.

Security forces have steadily stepped up the show — and use — of force, by deploying troops against peaceful protesters, and firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

A rally on February 9 in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw turned violent when police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, though doctors at the hospital later told AFP that at least two people had been critically wounded by live rounds.

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Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who turned 20 last Thursday as she lay unconscious in a hospital bed, was shot in the head. A doctor confirmed her death Friday, adding that her body will be examined as it is a “case of injustice”.

The young protester, a grocery store worker, is the first official death from the anti-coup movement since hundreds of thousands started gathering across the country two weeks ago to protest Myanmar’s return to military rule.

She has since become a symbol of resistance for protesters, hoisting her photos high in demonstrations and even unfurling a massive banner of artwork from a bridge showing the moment she was shot.

Her sister Poh Poh told reporters on Friday: “Please all join this protest movement to be more successful. That’s all I want to say.”

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She added that the burial will be on Sunday.

Military spokesman-turned-deputy information minister Zaw Min Tun said this week that authorities were investigating the case

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He also said a police officer had died in Mandalay after a confrontation with protesters Sunday.

Sanctions from UK, Canada
Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing’s death comes after an overnight announcement from Britain — Myanmar’s former colonial power — and Canada that several generals would be sanctioned over their roles in the junta’s security forces.

Freezing the assets of three top generals, the UK also said it was beginning a review to stop British businesses working with the military.

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Canada sanctioned nine Myanmar military officials and accused the junta of engaging “in a systemic campaign of repressions through coercive legislative measures and use of force”.

These actions come after US President Joe Biden last week announced Washington would cut off the generals’ access to $1 billion in funds in the US.

Burma Campaign UK’s Wai Hnin Pwint Thon said she was encouraged by the UK’s review of severing business ties with military-linked companies as “it will have an impact” if it hits coffers filled from lucrative gems, beer, and banking sectors.

But so far, “it is more a symbolic gesture than an effective one”, she said.

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Her famed activist father Mya Aye was detained the night of the coup, and she said her family still has no news of his whereabouts.

Internet shutdowns and night arrests
The country endured its fifth consecutive night of “curfew-style shutdowns”, according to monitoring group NetBlocks, reporting that the internet returned around 9 am local time.

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By noon, tens of thousands — including railway workers and teachers dressed in their uniforms to show they are boycotting work — amassed across Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, carrying posters of Suu Kyi that read “Free our leader”.

“Don’t go to the office!” they chanted. “Go strike! Go strike!”

In the northern city of Myitkyina, a small group of protesters were forcefully dispersed by police and military wielding batons, according to video posted online and witnesses.

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One teacher who was there — and now in hiding for fear of arrest — said she saw dozens arrested in the scuffle, including two of her colleagues.

“They arrested those who tried to take photos and videos… this is real injustice,” she told AFP.

Before Friday, more than 520 people have been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group, many of them civilians taking part in the so-called “Civil Disobedience Movement”.

The junta has justified its power seizure by alleging widespread electoral fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.

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The Nobel laureate — who has not been seen since she was detained in dawn raids — has been hit with an obscure charge for possessing unregistered walkie-talkies, and for flouting coronavirus restrictions during campaign events.

Her hearing is expected on March 1.

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#Newsworthy

Protesters create gridlock in Yangon. [Photos]

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Myanmar’s military has a history of violence and impunity during the decades that it ruled the country before the transition to democracy began 10 years ago.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Yangon on Wednesday to show their anger at the military coup in Myanmar amid rising concern of violence in the troubled Southeast Asian nation.

Protesters had called for massive rallies on Wednesday to shatter the army’s claim that people backed its February 1 move to seize power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) after they were returned to government in a landslide in November’s elections.

Demonstrators staged a mass ‘breakdown’ to block roads and junctions and hamper the movement of military vehicles [Stringer/Reuters]

Along with the larger crowds, people also stopped their cars in the streets or at key junctions – their bonnets open in mass ‘breakdowns’ – as a way of thwarting any military advance.

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Tom Andrews, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said earlier he was “terrified” of an escalation in violence, saying he had received reports of troop movements around the country and feared the protesters were facing real danger.

“I fear that Wednesday has the potential for violence on a greater scale in Myanmar than we have seen since the illegal takeover of the government on February 1,” Andrews said in a statement.

“I am terrified that given the confluence of these two developments – planned mass protests and troops converging – we could be on the precipice of the military committing even greater crimes against the people of Myanmar.”

Internet networks were taken down for the third night in a row, but connectivity was restored on Wednesday morning, according to NetBlocks, which monitors disruption and outages, and images of the rallies widely shared.

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Protesters included civil engineers, teachers and other government workers who gathered at key locations including the UN office, carrying banners calling for Aung San Suu Kyi to be freed and the military to leave.

Myanmar’s military has a history of violence and impunity during the decades that it ruled the country before the transition to democracy began 10 years ago.

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Armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, also directed the 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine, which the United Nations has said was carried out with “genocidal intent“.

Demonstrators call for the end of the military coup, as thousands took to the streets of Yangon on Wednesday after Aung San Suu Kyi was charged for breaching the country’s natural disaster management law [Lynn Bo Bo/EPA]

“The security forces’ approach could take an even darker turn fast,” the International Crisis Group warned in a briefing released on Wednesday. “Soldiers and armoured vehicles have begun to reinforce the police lines and, should the generals become impatient with the status quo, could easily become the sharp end of a bloody crackdown, as has happened in the past.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, the generals claimed they had not staged a coup and that their actions were necessary because of fraud in the November election.

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Those claims have been rejected by the elections commission, whose officials are among hundreds of people the generals have detained since seizing power.

The military insisted they would hold new elections without saying when the polls might take place.
In 1990, the military refused to accept the result after the NLD, then a newly-formed party, swept the elections.

It had earlier used force against protesters in 1988, and did so again in 2007, when a hike in fuel prices triggered mass demonstrations led by Buddhist monks.

Aung San Suu Kyi is thought to be under house arrest and on Tuesday was charged under the National Disaster Management Law with breaching COVID-19 regulations while campaigning for the elections. She has also been charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies that were found in her home.

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President Win Myint was also charged over pandemic breaches.

Teachers join protests against the military coup in Myanmar, outside the UN office in Yangon [Nyein Chan Naing/EPA]

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which is keeping track of those taken into custody, says 452 people have been detained since February 1. Some 417 remain in detention.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar under pressure at UN as protest boils.

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Some of the demonstrators were briefly hospitalised, while nine were taken into custody. They were later freed after a crowd mobbed a police station and demanded their release.

Opponents of Myanmar’s military coup sustained mass protests for an eighth straight day on Saturday as continuing arrests of junta critics added to anger over the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thousands assembled in the business hub, Yangon, while protesters took to the streets of the capital Naypyitaw, the second city Mandalay and other towns a day after the biggest protests so far in the Southeast Asian country.

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“Stop kidnapping at night,” was among the signs held up by protesters in Yangon in response to arrest raids in recent days.

Among those who were arrested was a doctor identified on social media as Pyae Phyo Naing, who was doing patient consultations in Ayeyarwaddy district, when the raid was carried on Thursday. A video of his arrest shared on social media fuelled anger among residents.

Internet memes captioned “Our nights aren’t safe anymore” and “Myanmar military is kidnapping people at night” have circulated widely on social media.

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The government did not respond to requests for comment on the arrests.

Adding pressure to the military is the demand of the UN Human Rights Council for the military to restore civilian rule and release the country’s civilian leaders.

During a rare special session on Friday requested by the United Kingdom and the European Union, the council adopted a resolution calling for all persons “arbitrarily detained” to be released and the “restoration of the elected government”.

“The world is watching,” the UN’s deputy rights chief Nada al-Nashif at the start of the session.

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Besides Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, more than 350 others have been detained since the February 1 putsch, including activists, journalists, students and monks, al-Nashif said.

In addition, “draconian orders have been issued this week to prevent peaceful assembly and free expression,” she said, decrying the “indiscriminate use of lethal or less-than-lethal weapons”.

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But traditional allies of Myanmar’s military, including Russia and China, slammed the emergency session as interference in “Myanmar’s internal affairs”.

‘Fight until victory’
With teachers, bureaucrats and air traffic controllers among the government employees walking off the job this week to demand an end to military rule, the new military leader Min Aung Hlaing told striking workers to return to their offices.

But hundreds of thousands still came out Friday in nationwide rallies – the seventh straight day of protests – demanding the country’s generals relinquish power.

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Many of the protesters stayed well into the night in Yangon, defying the curfew imposed by the military.

Besides Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, more than 350 others have been detained since the February 1 putsch, including activists, journalists, students and monks [Stringer/EPA]

In Pazundaung and Sanchaung districts of the country’s largest city, people spilled out into the streets searching for the police, after reports that a local medical official has been arrested.

There have also been reports on social media of authorities snatching protesters from the streets.

Demonstrations have so far largely been peaceful, though this week saw police deploy tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against protesters.

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Live rounds were fired at a rally in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, critically wounding two people – including a woman who was shot in the head.

On Friday, in the port city of Mawlamyine, police fired rubber bullets on students while dispersing a sit-down protest.

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Some of the demonstrators were briefly hospitalised, while nine were taken into custody. They were later freed after a crowd mobbed a police station and demanded their release.

Prison amnesty
Earlier in the day, state media announced the release of more than 23,000 inmates as part of a prison amnesty – a mass clearing of the country’s jails as authorities step up a crackdown on striking workers.

In the Irrawaddy Delta, home to much of Myanmar’s rice crop, police stormed a medical clinic and detained a doctor who had been supporting the civil disobedience campaign as he was treating a patient.

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“He was in the middle of putting stitches in his patient’s head,” the wife of Pyae Phyo Naing, 38, told the AFP news agency on Friday, a day after footage of the arrest went viral on social media.

“Without giving a reason, they took him,” wife Phyu Lae Thu said, crying.

“I want to urge those who are [protesting], please continue … fight until the victory and help him be released.”

News of the incident did not deter other medical workers from taking part in another day of massive rallies in commercial hub Yangon.

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“Whatever pressure comes from the army chief, we will not pay attention,” said Wai Yan Phyo, a doctor.

Internet crackdown
The coup has united disparate strands of society in opposition, with some reports of police officers breaking ranks to join demonstrations alongside celebrities, students and garment workers.

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They have called for the military government to respect the results of November’s elections, which saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party win in a landslide.

The military justified its takeover with claims of widespread voter fraud, though local and international monitors said there were no major issues that could have changed the poll’s outcome.

Min Aung Hlaing’s government has moved quickly to stack courts and political offices with loyalists after bringing the country’s decade-old democracy to a sudden end.

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The military appeared to also be preparing a wider clampdown on internet freedoms – already, the military government has blocked Myanmar’s access to Twitter and Facebook.

A draft cybersecurity bill – which grants the government power to order internet blackouts and website bans — has raised alarm tech giants, civil society groups and even the private sector.

It “violates the basic principles of digital rights, privacy and other human rights”, said a letter released late Friday signed by 50 private companies.

The military government has weathered a chorus of international condemnation.

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In the most significant concrete action, the US announced sanctions this week against the military government’s top generals, warning that additional action would be taken if they do not “change course”

Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen since she was detained on February 1.

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#Newsworthy

Breaking: UN demand Aung San Suu Kyi release.

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UN officials and diplomats alike voiced alarm at the assault on democracy in the country and violence against protesters.

The top United Nations human rights body has called on Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials and to refrain from using violence on people protesting against the military coup.

The 47-member Geneva forum adopted a resolution brought by Britain and the European Union (EU) unanimously without a vote, although Russia and China said afterwards that they “disassociated” themselves from the consensus.

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Myanmar’s envoy said before the vote that the resolution was “not acceptable”.

The resolution was adopted after the UN human rights investigator for Myanmar urged the UN Security Council to consider imposing punitive sanctions, arms embargoes and travel bans in response to the coup.

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The United States, which imposed its own sanctions on Thursday, urged other UN member states to follow suit, in its first remarks to the Human Rights Council since returning to the forum this week.

Special rapporteur Thomas Andrews said there were “growing reports and photographic evidence” that Myanmar security forces had used live ammunition against protesters since seizing power almost two weeks ago.

“Security Council resolutions dealing with similar situations have mandated sanctions, arms embargoes, and travel bans, and calling for judicial action at the International Criminal Court or ad hoc tribunals,” he told the council.

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“All of these options should be on the table.”

The 47-member forum met at the request of Britain and the European Union to consider a resolution calling for the release of ousted Myanmar leader Suu Kyi, and for UN monitors to be allowed to visit. It was adopted unanimously, although Myanmar, Russia and China envoys said they “disassociated” themselves from the resolution.

Demonstrators protest in front of the Russian embassy against the military coup and demand for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar [Reuters]

“With this resolution we would like to send a strong signal to the people of Myanmar: the protection of their human rights matters to us,” said Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger on behalf of the EU.

However, the resolution’s language had been watered down somewhat in an apparent bid to get detractors on board.

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In a letter read out to the Council earlier on Friday, some 300 elected parliamentarians called for UN investigations into the “gross human rights violations” that they said the military had committed since its coup, including arrests.

‘Draconian orders’
Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi clashed with police on Friday as hundreds of thousands joined pro-democracy demonstrations across Myanmar in defiance of the military’s call to halt mass gatherings.

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The UN’s deputy rights chief Nada al-Nashif decried the detention of the country’s elected civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and of more than 350 others, including officials, activists, journalists, monks and students.

UN officials and diplomats alike voiced alarm at the assault on democracy in the country and violence against protesters.

“The world is watching,” al-Nashif said. “Let us be clear: the indiscriminate use of lethal or less-than-lethal weapons against peaceful protesters is unacceptable.”

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In addition, she lamented, “draconian orders have been issued this week to prevent peaceful assembly and free expression”.

Min Aung Hlaing, the head of Myanmar’s army, known as Tatmadaw, has justified his coup by alleging widespread voter fraud during November’s election.

Myanmar ambassador to the UN in Geneva Myint Thu said Myanmar would continue to cooperate with the United Nations and uphold international human rights treaties, adding: “We do not want to stall the nascent democratic transition in the country.”

The United States, which only re-engaged with the council this week after former president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, also harshly condemned the coup.

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US diplomat Mark Cassayre said all those “unjustly detained” should be released, and called for “accountability for those responsible for the coup, including through targeted sanctions”.

US President Joe Biden announced this week that his administration was cutting off the military’s access to $1bn in funds, with sanctions targeting Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar general tell protesters to return home.

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Images depicting the woman have been shared widely online alongside expressions of grief and fury.

Myanmar’s ruling general signalled waning patience Thursday with nationwide protests over the military’s takeover, ordering demonstrators to return to work or face “effective actions”.

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His warning comes after a sixth consecutive day of anti-coup rallies condemning the ouster of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and follows US President Joe Biden announcing sanctions against the generals on Wednesday.

While the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, security forces earlier this week used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets, with isolated reports of live rounds being fired.

By Thursday evening, army chief General Min Aung Hlaing — who now holds legislative, judicial and executive powers — called for civil servants to return to work after days of nationwide strikes supporting the protests.

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“Due to unscrupulous persons’ incitement, some civil service personnel have failed to perform their duties,” he said in a statement.

“Effective actions will be taken.”

Since the February 1 coup, there has been an outpouring of anger and defiance, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other detained senior figures of her National League for Democracy party.

Demonstrators again marched peacefully on Thursday in Naypyidaw — the capital and military stronghold — as well as Yangon, the largest city and commercial hub, which saw tens of thousands flood into the streets.

“Don’t go to the office,” chanted a group of protesters outside Myanmar’s central bank in Yangon, part of the effort urging people to boycott work and put pressure on the junta.

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“We aren’t doing this for a week or a month — we are determined to do this until the end when (Suu Kyi) and President U Win Myint are released,” one protesting bank employee told AFP.

Musicians take part in a protest against the military coup in Yangon on February 11, 2021. — AFP pic

Joining the protest were dozens from the ethnic Karen, Rakhine and Kachin communities — drawn from Myanmar’s roughly 130 ethnic groups, some of who have faced intense persecution from the army.

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“Our ethnic armed groups and ethnic people have to join together to fight against the military dictatorship,” Saw Z Net, an ethnic Karen protester, told AFP.

In Shan state demonstrators in traditional costumes took their anti-coup message to the water on Lake Inle, with similar scenes unfolding in the ancient UNESCO heritage city of Bagan as hundreds marched between temples and pagodas.

US sanctions
Western nations have repeatedly denounced the coup, with the United States leading calls for the generals to relinquish power.

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In the most significant concrete action, Biden announced Wednesday that his administration was cutting off the generals’ access to $1 billion in funds in the United States.

“I again call on the Burmese military to immediately release democratic political leaders and activists,” Biden said, as he flagged further sanctions.

“The military must relinquish power.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also warned the bloc could impose fresh sanctions on Myanmar’s military.

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Crackdown deepens
There were more reports of arrests Thursday, including the deputy speaker of the parliament’s lower house and a key aide to Suu Kyi, taking the number of coup-linked detentions to more than 200, according to monitor Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The NLD — whose Yangon headquarters saw a raid this week — also confirmed the arrest of the election officials in the afternoon.

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The military justified last week’s power grab by claiming widespread voter fraud in November’s polls, which saw a landslide for Suu Kyi’s party.

It quickly moved to stack courts and political offices with loyalists as it ended a decade of civilian rule.

Fears are growing over how long the junta will tolerate the protests.

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Live rounds were fired at a rally in Naypyidaw this week, critically wounding two people — including a woman who was shot in the head.

Images depicting the woman have been shared widely online alongside expressions of grief and fury.

The military’s clampdown on information using internet blackouts — with tech companies ordered to cut communications intermittently — has drawn widespread condemnation.

Concern grew Thursday that the junta was planning to impose a much harsher and sustained internet crackdown.

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Tech-focused Myanmar civil society organisation MIDO tweeted that a draft cybersecurity bill had been sent to telecom companies, which would allow the military to order blackouts and website bans.

Norway-based Telenor, which had complied last week to block social media platforms where an online anti-coup campaign was proliferating, said it was reviewing the law.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar sends warning for possible crackdown amid protests.

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The military had widened its efforts to quell organised dissent on Friday when it demanded new blocks on other social media services including Twitter.

Tens of thousands of protesters poured onto the streets across Myanmar Sunday in the biggest anti-coup rallies yet, as an internet blackout failed to stifle growing outrage at the military’s ouster of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Some estimates put the number of protesters in Yangon at 100,000 and there were reports of large demonstrations in other cities condemning the coup that brought Myanmar’s 10-year experiment with democracy to a crashing halt.

Backed by a din of car horns, chanting protesters in Yangon held up banners saying “Justice for Myanmar”, while others waved the signature red flags of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party as they marched to City Hall.

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“I completely despise the military coup and I am not afraid of a crackdown,” said Kyi Phyu Kyaw, a 20-year-old university student.

“I will join every day until Amay Suu (Mother Suu) is freed.”

Protesters in Yangon began dispersing in the evening, after announcing that they would return to the streets at 10 am local time on Monday, indicating no let-up in their resistance.

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They also called on civil servants and people employed in other industries to not go to work and join the protests.

Many flashed the three-finger salute inspired by the “Hunger Games” films, which became a symbol of resistance during the pro-democracy protests in Thailand last year.

“We will fight until the end,” said Ye Kyaw, an 18-year-old economics student.

“The next generation can have democracy if we end this military dictatorship.”

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There was a large demonstration also in the capital Naypyidaw, despite the heavy military presence there, while tens of thousands rallied in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city.

Both those protests included people on armadas of motorcycles, waving flags and holding banners.

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There were also demonstrations in Mawlamyine city and the Magway region.

The rallies were largely peaceful, but local media reported that in the southeastern city of Myawaddy, police fired warning shots in the air to disperse a group of protesters.

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed “solidarity with the people of Myanmar”, urging the army to work towards “democratic coexistence”.

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The surge in popular dissent over the weekend overcame a nationwide internet blockade, similar in magnitude to an earlier shutdown that coincided with the arrest of Suu Kyi and other senior leaders on Monday.

Online calls to protest have prompted bold displays of defiance, including the nightly deafening clamour of people banging pots and pans — a practice traditionally associated with driving out evil spirits.

Monitoring service NetBlocks said internet services were partially restored on some mobile networks in Myanmar Sunday afternoon, but social media platforms remained inaccessible and it was unclear how long the connectivity would last.

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Myitkyina in Myanmar’s Kachin state on February 8, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Civil disobedience
As protests gathered steam after the coup, the junta ordered telecom networks to freeze access to Facebook, an extremely popular service in the country and arguably its main mode of communication.

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The platform had hosted a rapidly growing “Civil Disobedience Movement” forum that inspired civil servants, healthcare professionals and teachers to show their dissent by boycotting their jobs.

On Sunday, live Facebook video feeds from multiple cities showed protesters marching through the streets. It was not immediately clear how they bypassed the internet block.

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The military had widened its efforts to quell organised dissent on Friday when it demanded new blocks on other social media services including Twitter.

“The generals are now attempting to paralyse the citizen movement of resistance — and keep the outside world in the dark — by cutting virtually all internet access,” said Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

In addition to Suu Kyi and some of her top aides, dozens have been detained so far.

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The precise number of arrests is not yet known, but monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said Saturday that more than 150 people were still in custody.

International condemnation
An immensely popular figure in Myanmar despite a tarnished reputation in the West, Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since the coup, but a party spokesman said Friday she was “in good health”.

Two days after the coup, criminal charges were filed against her related to the illegal import of a set of walkie-talkies.

The military had hinted at its coup intentions days in advance, insisting that the NLD’s landslide victory in the November elections was the result of voter fraud.

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Following the takeover, the junta proclaimed a one-year state of emergency after which it promised to hold fresh elections, without offering any precise timeframe.

The coup has been widely condemned by the international community, with US President Joe Biden leading calls for the generals to relinquish power and release those arrested in the post-coup crackdown.

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#Newsworthy

Pope Francis preaches solidarity with Myanmar residents.

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There have been reports of large protests Sunday against the military regime in several cities across Myanmar.

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed “solidarity with the people of Myanmar” following last week’s military coup, urging the army to work towards “democratic coexistence” as thousands demonstrate in the streets.

The pope was speaking as tens of thousands of protesters poured on to the streets of Yangon in the biggest rally yet against Monday’s military coup.

“I pray that those in power in the country will work… towards the common good,” he said from the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square after his recital of the Angelus prayer Sunday.

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The pope, who visited Myanmar in 2017, called for “social justice, national stability and harmonious democratic coexistence”.

There have been reports of large protests Sunday against the military regime in several cities across Myanmar.

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#Newsworthy

Protesters rally against military coup in Myanmar.

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The military had widened its efforts to quell organised dissent on Friday when it demanded new blocks on other social media services including Twitter.

Tens of thousands of anti-coup protesters in Myanmar poured back onto the streets Sunday, as an internet blackout failed to stifle growing outrage at the military’s ouster of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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The fresh rally followed large protests on Saturday across the country condemning the coup that brought a 10-year experiment with democracy to a crashing halt.

Backed by a din of car horns, tens of thousands of protesters in Yangon held up banners on Sunday saying “Justice for Myanmar” and “We do not want military dictatorship”, while others waved the signature red flags of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Protesters march during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on February 7, 2021. Ye Aung THU / AFP

“I completely despise the military coup and I am not afraid of a crackdown,” said Kyi Phyu Kyaw, a 20-year-old university student.

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“I will join every day until Amay Suu (Mother Suu) is freed.”

Many demonstrators also flashed the three-finger salute inspired by the “Hunger Games” films, which became a symbol of resistance during the pro-democracy protests in Thailand last year.

The path of the protesters to Yangon City Hall was blocked at several points by riot police, but some managed to get there by early afternoon. Other groups were still on their way.

“We will fight until the end,” said Ye Kyaw, an 18-year-old economics student.

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“The next generation can have democracy if we end this military dictatorship.”

The surge in popular dissent over the weekend overrode a nationwide blockade of the internet, similar in magnitude to an earlier shutdown that coincided with the arrest of Suu Kyi and other senior leaders on Monday.

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Online calls to protest against the army takeover have prompted bold displays of defiance, including the nightly deafening clamour of people banging pots and pans — a practice traditionally associated with driving out evil spirits.

“#Myanmar’s military and police must ensure the right to peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals,” the United Nations Human Rights office tweeted after Saturday’s protests.

Protesters also gathered in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, to demand the release of detained leaders.

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“We cannot accept this unlawful military coup,” Win Mya Mya, an MP from Mandalay, told AFP.

Civil disobedience
As protests gathered steam this week, the junta ordered telecom networks to freeze access to Facebook, an extremely popular service in the country and arguably its main mode of communication.

The platform had hosted a rapidly growing “Civil Disobedience Movement” forum that had inspired civil servants, healthcare professionals and teachers to show their dissent by boycotting their jobs.

On Sunday, live Facebook video feeds showed the Yangon protesters as they marched through the streets. It was not immediately clear how they bypassed the government block.

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The military had widened its efforts to quell organised dissent on Friday when it demanded new blocks on other social media services including Twitter.

Monitoring group Netblocks said Sunday that Myanmar “remains in the midst of a nation-scale internet blackout”, with connectivity at 14 percent of usual levels.

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“The generals are now attempting to paralyse the citizen movement of resistance — and keep the outside world in the dark — by cutting virtually all internet access,” said Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

In addition to Suu Kyi and some of her top aides, dozens have been detained so far.

The precise number of arrests is not yet known, but monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said Saturday that more than 150 people were still in custody.

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International condemnation
Rumours that Suu Kyi had been released triggered brief but raucous street celebrations among her supporters on Saturday, before they were denied by her lawyer who said she remained in detention.

An immensely popular figure despite a tarnished reputation in the West, Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since the coup, but a party spokesman said Friday she was “in good health”.

Two days after the coup, criminal charges were filed against her related to the illegal import of a set of walkie-talkies.

The military had hinted at its coup intentions days in advance, insisting that the NLD’s landslide victory in the November elections was the result of voter fraud.

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Following the takeover, the junta proclaimed a one-year state of emergency after which it promised to hold fresh elections, without offering any precise timeframe.

The coup has been widely condemned by the international community, with US President Joe Biden leading calls for the generals to relinquish power and release those arrested in the post-coup crackdown.

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#Newsworthy

‘Up to Myanmar’ – Democrats, once again political convicts.

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Po Po, the wife of a former prominent student union leader who was detained on Monday, said she had not heard from her husband and was worried about his health.

Carrying just a small bag, Mya Aye was escorted from his home in the dead of the night by Myanmar soldiers just as an internet blackout shrouded the country and a dawn coup ousted its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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The military takeover stunned the world and brought a decade-long democratic experiment to a shuddering halt, but for the lifelong democracy activist and other veteran critics of the country’s generals, this week’s events were all too familiar.

“He prepared a little backpack by the door with clothes and toothpaste,” said Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, the daughter of Mya Aye, of her father’s contingency plan in the event that whispered rumours of an imminent putsch proved true.

“He was arrested twice before so it’s something he is used to.”

Mya Aye is one of the leaders of the 88 Generation, a veteran pro-democracy group that came of age during an uprising against junta rule in 1988.

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That protest culminated in a brutal crackdown that saw thousands gunned down by soldiers and the rise of Suu Kyi as the national avatar of resistance to military rule.

Now 54, Mya Aye has been in and out of prison for his activism ever since.

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He is among more than a dozen activists and pro-democracy figures who have been detained by the new regime this week, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The Yangon-based monitoring group says more than 130 officials and lawmakers have also been nabbed, with other arrest reports yet to be confirmed.

It is unclear whether more detentions will follow, but news of the arrests has already cast a pall of fear over the country.

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“Activists and independent journalists have fled their homes and are now in hiding after receiving tip-offs that… they could be arrested at any time,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

  • ‘Going backwards’
    Before the generals loosened their grip on the country in 2011, Myanmar had been ruled by the military for 49 consecutive years.

Its tentative move to democracy and opening to the outside world meant a sudden flood of cheap SIM cards, giving an information-hungry people access to mobile internet at the same time as decades-old censorship laws were relaxed.

But by Saturday, Myanmar had been plunged into its second internet shutdown of the week, almost completely halting the frenetic flow of news out of the country.

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Relatives of prominent dissidents are also scared to fall afoul of the new military administration, making it difficult to confirm other rumoured arrests.

For the nephew of Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, a filmmaker previously jailed for criticising Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution, it is clear his uncle was nabbed the night of the coup because of his high standing with the public.

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“I think they arrested all dissidents who could share the right information to the public,” said Khaung Satt Naing, adding that authorities refuse to share his uncle’s whereabouts.

Po Po, the wife of a former prominent student union leader who was detained on Monday, said she had not heard from her husband and was worried about his health.

But she told AFP she fully supported Min Thway Thit’s championing of the democratic cause.

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“A military coup means we’re going backwards… I want to call for the immediate release of (all) who are currently arrested,” she said.

  • ‘Not the life we want’
    Her calls have been echoed by the international community, including US President Joe Biden who have demanded the generals “relinquish power”.

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon — herself an activist with the Burma Campaign UK lobby group — says Western countries need to impose new targeted sanctions to military-linked institutions and businesses.

She says she does not want other Myanmar people to live through the imprisonment of their loved ones.

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“The first time I saw my dad was when I was four years old through iron bars at Insein prison,” said the 32-year-old, who still has no idea about her father’s current whereabouts.

“The next generation (could) live through this again,” she added. “Children will go see their parents behind bars — this is not the life we want.”

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#Newsworthy

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World ‘longest internet shutdown’ in parts of Myanmar ends.

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The conflict in Rakhine state between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, a militant group agitating for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine people, has left hundreds dead or injured.

The world’s longest internet shutdown — affecting more than a million people for 19 months in one of Myanmar’s ethnic conflict zones — has come to an end, according to a mobile operator based in the region.

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The internet in parts of Myanmar’s troubled northern states of Rakhine and Chin was suspended in June 2019 following “emergency” orders issued by the telecoms department under Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government.

Following Monday’s military coup, mobile operator Telenor Group confirmed it had reinstated full services in eight townships in Rakhine and Chin states on Wednesday.

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“Telenor Group and Telenor Myanmar have been advocating for the restoration of services and emphasised that freedom of expression through access to telecoms services should be maintained for humanitarian purposes,” the company said in a statement.

On Wednesday, affected residents celebrated being reconnected to the wider world.

Khin Maung from Mrauk-U township in northern Rakhine said the internet connection was back, but slow.

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“Now we got the internet back. So we know about the coup as well,” said Shouban in Maungdaw, who like many from the Rohingya ethnic group goes by one name.

Human Rights Watch said the internet restrictions had curtailed awareness about coronavirus health risks and information about hygiene measures last year.

The conflict in Rakhine state between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, a militant group agitating for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine people, has left hundreds dead or injured.

Fighting spilled over into neighbouring Chin state, forcing thousands of ethnic Chin, who are predominantly Christian, out of their villages and into temporary camps.

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The region has also been beset by what the United Nations has said could be genocide, after a brutal military crackdown by the government which sent about 740,000 Rohingya fleeing for neighbouring Bangladesh.

The 600,000 remaining Rohingya live under apartheid-like conditions.

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#Newsworthy

Aung ‘accused’ of treason, …As calls to interrupt Myanmar coup grows.

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The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday but failed to agree on a statement condemning the coup.

Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi was formally charged on Wednesday two days after she was detained in a military coup, as calls for civil disobedience to oppose the putsch gathered pace.

The Southeast Asian nation was plunged back into direct military rule when soldiers arrested key civilian leaders in a series of dawn raids on Monday, ending the army’s brief flirtation with democracy.

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Su Kyi, who has not been seen in public since won a huge landslide with her National League for Democracy (NLD) last November but the military — whose favoured parties received a drubbing — declared the polls fraudulent.

On Wednesday, the NLD’s press officer said 75-year-old Suu Kyi was formally charged with an offence under Myanmar’s import and export law, with a court signing off on two-weeks remand.

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The unusual charge stemmed from a search of her house following her arrest in which walkie-talkies were discovered, according to a leaked police charging document seen by reporters.

A similarly unorthodox charge under the country’s disaster management law against President Win Myint revolved around him allegedly breaching anti-coronavirus measures last year by meeting voters on the campaign trail.

With soldiers and armoured cars back on the streets of major cities, the takeover has not been met by any large street protests.

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But signs of public anger and plans to resist have begun to flicker.

Doctors and medical staff at multiple hospitals across the country announced Wednesday they were donning red ribbons and walking away from all non-emergency work to protest against the coup.

“Our main goal is to accept only the government we elected,” Aung San Min, head of a 100-bed hospital in Gangaw district, told AFP.

Some medical teams posted pictures on social media wearing red ribbons — NLD’s colours — and raising a three-finger salute, a protest gesture used by democracy activists in neighbouring Thailand, while some have chosen to bypass work altogether.

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“My protest starts today by not going to the hospital… I have no desire to work under the military dictatorship,” said Nor Nor Wint Wah, a doctor in Mandalay.

Activists were announcing their campaigns on a Facebook group called “Civil Disobedience Movement” which by Wednesday afternoon had more than 150,000 followers within 24 hours of its launch.

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The clatter of pots and pans — and the honking of car horns — also rang out across Yangon on Tuesday evening after calls for protest went out on social media.

Military’s deadly legacy
Army chief Min Aung Hlaing appointed himself head of a new cabinet stacked with former and current generals, justifying his coup on Tuesday as the “inevitable” result of civilian leaders’ failure to heed the army’s fraud warnings.

The military declared a one-year state of emergency and said it would hold new elections once their allegations of voter irregularities were addressed and investigated.

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The move stunned Myanmar, a country left impoverished by decades of junta misrule before it began taking steps towards a more democratic and civilian-led government 10 years ago.

But protesting is fraught with risk.

During junta rule, dissent was quashed with thousands of activists — including Suu Kyi — detained for years on end.

Censorship was pervasive and the military frequently deployed lethal force during periods of political turmoil, most notably during huge protests in 1988 and 2007.

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The new government has already issued a warning telling people not to say or post anything that might “encourage riots or an unstable situation”.

On Wednesday, the NLD announced the military had committed “unlawful acts” in the coup’s aftermath, raiding their party offices across the country and seizing documents and computers.

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International censure
The army’s actions have been met with a growing chorus of international condemnation although the options are limited for those nations hoping Myanmar’s generals might reverse course.

On Tuesday the State Department formally designated the takeover as a coup, meaning the United States cannot assist the Myanmar government.

Any impact will be mainly symbolic, as almost all assistance goes to non-government entities and Myanmar’s military was already under US sanctions over its brutal campaign against the Rohingya minority.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and several other nations have also spoken out.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday but failed to agree on a statement condemning the coup.

To be adopted, it requires the support of China, which wields veto power as a permanent Security Council member and is Myanmar’s main supporter at the UN.

“China and Russia have asked for more time”, said a diplomat requesting anonymity.

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Both countries repeatedly shielded Myanmar from censure at the UN over the military’s crackdown on the Rohingya, a campaign that UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

With the UN meeting failing to issue a statement, G7 nations produced their own calling on Myanmar’s military to reverse course.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar coup: Police file charges against ‘detained’ Aung San Suu Kyi

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China has been warning since the coup that sanctions or international pressure would only make things worse in Myanmar.

Police in Myanmar, also known as Burma, have filed several charges against the elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi following Monday’s military coup.

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She has been remanded in custody until 15 February, police documents show.

The charges include breaching import and export laws, and possession of unlawful communication devices.

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Her whereabouts are still unclear, but it has been reported that she is being held at her residence in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Video: Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi to be charged with Treason | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

Deposed President Win Myint has also been charged, the documents show – in his case with violating rules banning gatherings during the Covid pandemic. He has also been remanded in custody for two weeks.

Neither the president nor Ms Suu Kyi have been heard from since the military seized power in the early hours of 1 February.

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The coup, led by armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing, has seen the installation of an 11-member junta which is ruling under a year-long state of emergency.

The military sought to justify its action by alleging fraud in last November’s elections, which Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won decisively.

What are the details of the charges?
The accusations are contained in a police document – called a First Initial Report – submitted to a court.

It alleges that Ms Suu Kyi illegally imported and used communications equipment – walkie-talkies – found at her home in Nay Pyi Taw.

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She was remanded in custody “to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant”, the document says.

Mr Win Myint is accused, under the National Disaster Management Law, of meeting supporters in a 220-vehicle motorcade during the election campaign in breach of Covid restrictions.

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Analysis box by Jonathan Head, South East Asia correspondent
Given the gravity of the military’s power grab, claiming that Myanmar’s national unity was at stake, and the storm of international condemnation that’s followed, these charges seem comically trivial.

But they may be enough to secure the military’s objective of barring Aung San Suu Kyi from political office, as members of parliament cannot have criminal convictions.

Protesters bang pot and plate to express displeasure over military coup and Kyi’s detention | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

For 32 years the generals have tried, and failed, to neutralise the threat posed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s enduring popularity. She has won every election she’s been allowed to contest by a wide margin.

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The only election she did not win was one held by the military government 10 years ago – back then she was also barred from contesting by a bizarre criminal conviction which was imposed on her after an American man managed to swim across a lake in Yangon to her home, where she was being held under house arrest.

What opposition is there to the coup?
Doctors in Myanmar showing their discontent with the coup, 3 February 2021.

Many hospital medics are either stopping work or continuing but wearing symbols of defiance in simmering anger over the suppression of Myanmar’s short-lived democracy.

Protesting medical staff say they are pushing for the release of Ms Suu Kyi.

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They are wearing red, or black, ribbons and pictured giving the three-fingered salute familiar from the Hunger Games movies and used by demonstrators last year in Thailand.

Online, many changed their social media profile pictures to one of just the colour red.

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“Now young people in Myanmar… have digital power, we have digital devices and we have digital space so this is the only platform for us” Yangon Youth Network founder Thinzar Shunlei told AFP.

“So we’ve been using this since day one, since the first few hours that we are opposing the military junta.”

A Facebook group has been set up to co-ordinate the disobedience campaign.

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People in Yangon banged pots and pans to protest against the military coup

Myanmar has been mainly calm following the coup, with troops on patrol and a night-time curfew in force.

There have also been demonstrations in support of the military – one attracted 3,000 people, NoRM reports

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Hundreds of MPs were also detained by the military but were told on Tuesday they could leave their guest houses in the capital.

Among them is Zin Mar Aung, an NLD MP who spent 11 years in jail on political charges under military dictatorship.

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She told NoRM‘s known Media she had now been given 24 hours to leave the MPs’ compound.

“Currently the situation is very very tough and challenging,” she said. “Under the military coup it’s very dangerous if we speak out about what will be our next steps… only thing that I can say is that the MPs of parliament will stand with our people and vote.”

File Photo: Aung San Suu Kyi – Detained De Facto Minister | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

Lots to know about detained Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi:

  1. Rose to international prominence in the 1990s as she campaigned to restore democracy in Myanmar during decades of military dictatorship
  2. Spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 after organising rallies calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections
  3. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991
  4. Led her NLD party to victory in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years in 2015
  5. Reputation tarnished by failure to condemn military campaign which saw more than half a million civilians from Muslim Rohingya minority seek refuge in Bangladesh
  6. How are other countries reacting to the takeover?
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The Group of Seven major economic powers said it was “deeply concerned” about the coup and called for the return of democracy.

File Photo: Document of Charges filed against Aung San Suu Kyi | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM

“We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights,” the statement released in London said. The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

But efforts at the United Nations Security Council to reach a common position came to nought as China failed to agree. China is one of five permanent members with a right of veto in the council – the UN body responsible for maintaining peace.

China has been warning since the coup that sanctions or international pressure would only make things worse in Myanmar.

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Beijing has long played a role of protecting the country from international scrutiny. It sees the country as economically important and is one of Myanmar’s closest allies.

Alongside Russia, it has repeatedly protected Myanmar from criticism at the UN over the military crackdown on the Muslim minority Rohingya population.

Key players detained by military
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#Newsworthy

World condemns Myanmar coup.

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Indonesia’s foreign minister likewise expressed “concern” while also urging “self-restraint”.

The United States led governments around the world in calling for the restoration of Myanmar’s democracy on Monday after the military staged a coup, arresting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians.

United States

The United States “will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed”, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

She added that the US opposed any attempt to alter the outcome of the November elections, which handed Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) an overwhelming landslide, but sparked allegations of vote irregularities by the routed military-backed party.

Newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called on Myanmar’s military “to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8”.

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Before the coup, Washington, alongside several other Western nations, had urged the military to “adhere to democratic norms” in a January 29 statement that came as the commander-in-chief threatened to revoke the country’s constitution.

Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the coup and Suu Kyi’s imprisonment.

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“The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released,” he tweeted.

China

China, which regularly opposes UN intervention in Myanmar, called for all sides to “resolve differences”.

“China is a friendly neighbour of Myanmar and hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences under the constitutional and legal framework to protect political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing.

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Russia

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow was following developments in Myanmar, but added that it was too early to give an assessment.
United Nations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly” condemned the military’s detention of Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders.

“These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Japan

Japan urged Myanmar’s military to free Suu Kyi and to restore democracy.

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“We request the release of stakeholders including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who was detained today,” Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement urging “the national army to quickly restore the democratic political system in Myanmar”.

– European Union –

European Council President Charles Michel strongly condemned the coup.

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“The outcome of the elections has to be respected and democratic process needs to be restored,” the former Belgian prime minister tweeted.
Australia

“We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

India

“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

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Turkey

The Turkish government, itself the target of a military coup in 2016, condemned the takeover and called for the politicians’ release.

“We strongly condemn the seizure of power by the Myanmar army. Turkey opposes all kinds of coups and we expect the immediate release of elected leaders, political figures and civilians who have been detained,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

ASEAN

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “grave concern about the latest situation in Myanmar”, adding hopes that all parties would “exercise restraint”.

Indonesia’s foreign minister likewise expressed “concern” while also urging “self-restraint”.

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“Our primary concern is the safety of our people,” he said. “Our armed forces are on standby in case we need to airlift them as well as navy ships to repatriate them if necessary.”

Bangladesh

“Bangladesh firmly adheres to and promotes democratic ethos. We hope that the democratic process and constitutional arrangements will be upheld in Myanmar. As an immediate and friendly neighbour, we would like to see peace and stability in Myanmar,” Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Scandinavia

Norway, Sweden and Denmark condemned the military’s seizure of power.

“We urge military leaders to adhere to democratic norms and respect the outcome of the elections,” Norway’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said civilian leaders and others “unlawfully detained must be released immediately and unconditionally”.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said “military under civilian control is a key democratic principle”.

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– Canada –

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted that Myanmar’s military “wrote the Constitution this way so they could do this”.

“The Constitution of 2008 was specifically designed to ensure military power was deeply entrenched and protected,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

Myanmar’s coup: Aung San Suu Kyi ‘detained’

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Suu Kyi went to the United Nations to defend Myanmar against the allegations.

Myanmar’s military seized power in a bloodless coup on Monday, detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and declaring a one-year state of emergency.

The intervention ended a decade of civilian rule in Myanmar, with the military justifying its power grab by alleging fraud in the November elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide.

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Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in the capital Naypyidaw before dawn, party spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP, just hours before parliament was meant to reconvene for the first time since the elections.

The military then declared, via its own television channel, a one-year state of emergency and announced that former general Myint Swe would become acting president for the next year.

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It alleged “huge irregularities” in the November polls that the election commission had failed to address.

“As the situation must be resolved according to the law, a state of emergency is declared,” the announcement said.

Suu Kyi issued a pre-emptive statement ahead of her detention calling on people “not to accept a coup”, according to a post on the official Facebook page of the her party’s chairperson.

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The military moved quickly to stifle dissent, severely restricting the internet and mobile phone communications across the country.

In Yangon, the former capital that remains Myanmar’s commercial hub, troops seized the city hall just ahead of the announcement, according to an AFP journalist.

AFP saw several trucks in Yangon carrying army supporters, with Myanmar flags and blaring nationalist songs, and some NLD members reported that security forces had ordered them to stay at home.

All banks across the country were also closed, and queues formed at ATMs.

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Elsewhere, the chief minister of Karen state and several other regional ministers were also held, party sources told AFP.

However, the military did not deploy masses of troops onto Yangon’s streets.

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Swift condemnation
The United States, the United Nations and Australia quickly condemned the coup, calling for a restoration of democracy.

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Australia said the military was “once again seeking to seize control” of the country.

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“We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

Myanmar’s November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.

The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote — increasing its support from 2011.

Suu Kyi, 75, is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military, having spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous dictatorship.

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But the military has for weeks complained the polls were riddled with irregularities, and claimed to have uncovered over 10 million instances of voter fraud.

It had demanded the government-run election commission release voter lists for cross-checking — which the commission did not do.

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Last week, military chief General Min Aung Hlaing — arguably the country’s most powerful individual — said Myanmar’s 2008 constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.

Myanmar has seen two previous coups since independence from Britain in 1948, one in 1962 and one in 1988.

Suu Kyi’s previous opposition to the military earned her the Nobel peace prize.

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But her international image was shredded during her time in power as she defended the military-backed crackdown in 2017 against the country’s Muslim Rohingya community.

About 750,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh during the campaign, which UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

Suu Kyi was only ever de facto leader of Myanmar as the military had inserted a clause in the constitution that barred her from being president.

The 2008 constitution also ensured the military would remain a significant force in government by retaining control of the interior, border and defence ministries.

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But to circumvent the clause preventing her from being president, Suu Kyi assumed leadership of the country via a new role of “state counsellor”.

“From (the military’s) perspective, it has lost significant control over the political process,” political analyst Soe Myint Aung told AFP.

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#Newsworthy

Two Myanmar soldiers sent to Hague after Rohingya murder confession.

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The two men reportedly admitted to killing dozens of villagers in northern Rakhine state, burying them in mass graves.

Two Myanmar soldiers have been taken to The Hague after confessing to murdering Rohingya minority during a 2017 crackdown, two news organisations and a rights group have reported.

The two men admitted to killing dozens of villagers in northern Rakhine state and burying them in mass graves, according to the New York Times, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the non-profit Fortify Rights, citing statements the men made on videos filmed in Myanmar this year.

NRM on Tuesday said it has not seen the videos cited by the news organisations.

Noble Reporters Media learnt it could not independently confirm that the two soldiers committed the crimes to which they confessed.

Myanmar government and military spokesmen did not answer calls seeking comment.

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The reports said the men had been in the custody of the Arakan Army group, which is now fighting Myanmar government troops in Rakhine state, when they made the admissions and were later taken to The Hague in the Netherlands, where they could appear as witnesses or face trial.

It was not clear from the reports how the men fell into the hands of the Arakan Army, why they were speaking, or how they were transported to The Hague and under whose authority.

A spokesman for the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, said it did not have the men in custody.

“No. These reports are not correct. We don’t have these persons in the ICC custody,” said the spokesman, Fadi el Abdallah.

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Payam Akhavan, a Canadian lawyer representing Bangladesh in a filing against Myanmar at the ICC, said the two men had appeared at a border post requesting the protection of the government and had confessed to the mass murder and rape of Rohingya civilians in 2017.

“All I can say is that those two individuals are no longer in Bangladesh,” he said.

A spokesman for the Arakan Army, Khine Thu Kha, said the two men were deserters and were not held as prisoners of war.

He did not comment further on where the men were now but said the group was “committed to justice” for all victims of the Myanmar military.

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Myanmar has repeatedly denied allegations of genocide, saying its military operations in 2017 were targeting Rohingya rebels who attacked police border posts.

Speaking from the Hague, NRM official said that the case had been stalled for a long time because Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the basis for ICC. But with Bangladesh being a signatory, the ICC has ruled that is has jurisdiction over the case

Myanmar soldiers on foot-patrol along makeshift tent camps for internally displaced Rohingya in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State [File: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP Photo]

“Part of the crimes that happened in Myanmar, were happening in Bangladesh as well. For example, the forced deportations, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya were deported to Bangladesh. That’s why the case has been speeding up since last November,” she said.

“The court has ordered the investigation to be continued and if we have these two former military men… if they say they were involved and have given a very detailed account of what they did and who was with them, then this will be an enormous move for this investigation.”

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Commenting from Amman, Antonia Mulvey, executive director of Legal Action Worldwide, said that if the evidence turns out to be credible, it would be a huge push for the investigation.

“While the ICC has made no comment on whether or not they have them [the men] in custody, the stories [of the soldiers] are said to be credible and corroborative,” she said explaining that the statements included a mention of ordered killings and rape.

“While they [the soldiers] may be very low in the ranks, we hope more will come forward. There was shown to be a clear chain of command,” she added.

The ICC is investigating the crime against humanity of forced deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh, as well as persecution and other human rights violations.

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“The office does not publicly comment on speculation or reports regarding its ongoing investigations, neither does the office discuss specifics of any aspect of its investigative activities,” a statement from the ICC prosecutor’s office said.

Myanmar is also facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice, also in The Hague, though that body does not bring cases against individuals or hear witnesses.

In 2015, before the alleged 2017 genocide, Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media Investigative Unit revealed the inner workings of the Myanmar regime, drawing on documents from the Myanmar military, an unpublished United Nations report and other government paperwork.

Those documents, assessed by Yale University Law School and the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, constituted “strong evidence” of a state-led genocide according to experts.


#Newsworthy…

Facebook preparing to tackle ‘Hate Speech’ in Myanmar.

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Platform, accused of fanning hate towards Rohingya, says it removed 280,000 posts that breached rules in second quarter.


Facebook said on Tuesday that it was preparing for Myanmar’s general election in November by improving the detection and removal of hate speech and content that incites violence, and preventing the spread of misinformation.

The company said in a blog that between now and November 22, it would remove “verifiable misinformation and unverifiable rumours” that are assessed as having the potential to suppress the vote or damage the “integrity” of the electoral process.

“For example, we would remove posts falsely claiming a candidate is a Bengali, not a Myanmar citizen, and thus ineligible,” Facebook said.

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The platform has come under fire in Myanmar over hate speech directed against the mainly Muslim Rohingya over the past decade, including during the brutal military-led crackdown in 2017 that forced more than 730,000 Rohingya to flee the country. Investigators from the United Nations said Facebook played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence.

The company admitted two years ago that it had been “too slow” to address the problem.

A mobile phone user scrolls through Facebook at a shop in Yangon [File: Ann Wang/Reuters]

Facebook said it was working with two partners in Myanmar to verify the official Facebook pages of political parties. It now has three fact-checking partners in Myanmar: BOOM, AFP Fact Check and Fact Crescendo.

Violating standards
It also said it introduced a new feature that limits the number of times a message can be forwarded to five.

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The feature is now available in Myanmar and, over the next few weeks, will be made available to Messenger users worldwide, the company added in the blog.

This year’s elections in Myanmar, scheduled for November 8, will be the second since the generals who had led the country for decades ceded power while ensuring their continuing influence through a 25-percent quota of seats in parliament.

The first, in 2016, brought longtime pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to power but, during the two-month campaign period, an estimated one million Rohingya were stripped of their right to vote.

Facebook and other social media platforms have faced criticism worldwide in recent years from activists, regulators and governments for the spread of misinformation, including during elections.


#Newsworthy…