The junta in Myanmar declared martial law in two districts of Yangon on Sunday after new protests. The commander in the Yangon region was given appropriate powers to “more efficiently maintain security and ensure the rule of law and calm,” it said on state television. Dozens of people were killed in the two districts of the economic metropolis during operations by the security forces against demonstrators on Sunday.
According to eyewitnesses, tens of thousands of people protested against the military coup in the Southeast Asian country in February at the weekend. At least 33 people were killed between Friday evening and Sunday, according to the media and participants, when the military and police cracked down on the demonstrators in various cities. Amnesty International (AI) strongly condemned the increasing repression against journalists.
In Myanmar, the military couped to power on February 1, and the previous de facto head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi, was disempowered and arrested. Since then there have been repeated mass protests. The police and the army are increasingly reacting with violence.
More than 80 people have already been killed, the non-profit organization for political prisoners, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) estimated. According to her, more than 2,100 people were arrested.
Journalists in their sights
Journalists are also being targeted more and more often. Local reporters would sometimes have to hide from persecution and meanwhile foreign media representatives are increasingly being prevented from doing their work and persecuted, said the AI Germany boss Markus Beeko of the dpa. The arrest of the Polish journalist Robert Bociagas, who also worked for dpa, “fits into this picture and is to be condemned in the strongest possible way”. According to media reports, the reporter was arrested by forces in Taunggyi on Thursday. The 30-year-old is also said to have been beaten. The German embassy in Myanmar called on the authorities on Saturday for “fair and humane treatment” of Bociaga.
According to an eyewitness, thousands of demonstrators gathered on Sunday in the community of Hlaing Thar Yar in the west of the former capital Yangon. At least eleven were killed there when security forces tried to crush the protests, the Myanmar Now news agency reported, citing hospital sources and emergency services. “We are protesting against the military and facing this brutal crackdown,” said an eyewitness to the dpa: “The many thousands of demonstrators in our communities today show that we do not accept injustice and want justice.”
Another eyewitness reported to the dpa that a demonstrator was shot dead on Sunday in Bago, northeast of Yangon. Another protester was killed in Hpakant, northern Kachin state. At least eleven other demonstrators were killed between Friday evening and Saturday, including in Yangon, Mandalay and Pyay. Dozens of people were seriously injured over the weekend, according to eyewitnesses. The number of deaths will therefore probably rise, it said.
“Continue the Revolution”
Mahn Win Khaing Than, a politician of the previously ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Suu Kyi, turned to the public for the first time on Saturday as the head of a newly formed group of politicians deposed from the military. On Facebook he swore to continue the “revolution”. “This is the darkest moment in our nation and the moment when dawn is approaching,” he said, among other things.
The BBC reported that he and other NLD politicians escaped arrest and founded a kind of civil counter-government underground. Mahn Win Khaing Than has been appointed acting head. The group is now trying to be recognized at the international level as the legitimate government of Myanmar. (apa)