Yangon, Myanmar — The Burmese police have stepped up their suppression of demonstrators to oppose this month’s military takeover, and deployed ahead of schedule and took effect on Saturday as demonstrators tried to gather in the country’s two largest cities and other places.
In some areas, security forces appear to have become more aggressive in the use of force and arrests, using more plainclothes police officers than previously disclosed. Photos posted on social media show that residents of at least two cities, Yangon and Monywa, resisted by erecting temporary roadblocks in an attempt to prevent the advance of the police.
Last Friday, during the special session of the UN General Assembly, the crisis in Myanmar took a dramatic turn on the international stage, when the country’s UN ambassador declared loyalty to the dismissed Aung San Suu Kyi civilian government and called on the world to put pressure on the military. . Give up power.
Arrested in Myanmar’s two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay on Saturday, demonstrators marched in the streets every day to peacefully demand the restoration of the Suu Kyi government, the latter’s National League for Democracy, which won an overwhelming election victory in November . The police are increasingly asking the military government to order a ban on gatherings of five or more people.
Many other towns also held large-scale protests against the coup on February 1
Police in Dawei in the southeast and Monywa, 135 kilometers (85 miles) northwest of Mandalay, used force against the demonstrators. Both cities have a population of less than 200,000, and both are holding large-scale demonstrations.
Unconfirmed reports on social media claimed that the protesters were shot and killed in Monywa. These reports cannot be independently confirmed immediately, but the victim’s photo and identification are credible. The Monywa report also stated that dozens or more people were arrested.
After fifty years of military rule, military takeover reversed the slow democratic process for many years. Suu Kyi’s party could have been re-elected for a second five-year term, but the army prevented the convening of the parliament and detained her, President Win Myint, and other high-level members of her government.
At the UN General Assembly in New York, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, announced in an emotional speech by the delegates that he represented Suu Kyi’s “civilian government elected by the people” and supported the struggle against military rule.
He urged all countries to make public statements, strongly condemned the coup, and refused to recognize the military regime. He also called for stronger international measures to stop the security forces’ violence against peaceful demonstrators.
In this global institution in 193 countries, he won enthusiastic applause from many diplomats and received enthusiastic praise on social media from other Burmese people who praised him as a hero. At the end of the speech, the ambassador flashed three fingers to pay tribute. This was a salute used by the civil disobedience movement. In his speech, he paid tribute to the people returning to Myanmar.
In Yangon on Saturday morning, the police began to make early arrests at the Hledan Center intersection, which has become a gathering place for protesters, and then they spread to other parts of the city. The police took similar actions in residential areas.
The security forces also tried to thwart the protests in Mandalay. Mandalay set up roadblocks at several key intersections and regular gathering places were flooded by police.
Buddhist monks, as usual, excel at the Saturday March in Mandalay, granting moral authority to a civil disobedience movement that challenged military rulers.
The independent Political Prisoners Aid Association said that Mandalay had experienced several violent clashes and at least eight confirmed deaths were related to the protests. On Friday, at least three people were injured there. Two of them were hit by a rubber bullet in the chest. Another person appeared to have been injured in the leg by a bullet.
According to the association, as of Friday, there were 771 people who had been arrested, prosecuted or sentenced in connection with the coup, and 689 were detained or sought arrest.
The military government stated that it came to power because last year’s polls were disrupted by large-scale violations. The election commission before the military launched the coup dismissed allegations of widespread fraud. The military government disbanded the members of the old committee and appointed new members. They cancelled the election results last Friday.
The United Nations Associated Press writer Edith Lederer contributed to this report.