Friday, 16 April, 2021

Myanmar death toll mounts amid protests, military crackdown

Anti-coup protesters burn constitution books at Tarmwe township in Yangon Myanmar Thursday Anti-coup protesters burn constitution books at Tarmwe township in Yangon Myanmar
Cary Erickson | 03 April, 2021, 13:06

A conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years, according to Reuters.

The rebel government, dubbed the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, is made up of members of deposed de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy who were elected in November but not allowed to take their seats after the military detained Suu Kyi and replaced the civilian government on February 1.

Suu Kyi and other government officials have been detained since the coup.

Actress Paing Phyoe Thu said she would not be cowed. Min Min Soe said he met with Suu Kyi on Wednesday via video conferencing for the first time since she was detained.

The ousted civilian leader, whose party won a landslide in the November 2020 elections, has not been seen in public since her detention. "The revolution must prevail", she said on Facebook.

"She demanded a meeting between her and her lawyers - a private meeting to give her instructions to the lawyers and discuss the case without any outside interference by police or armed forces".

Myanmar's wireless broadband internet services were shut down on Friday by order of the military, local providers said, as protesters continued to defy the threat of lethal violence to oppose the junta's takeover.

The Norwegian telecoms company Telenor, one of the biggest carriers in Myanmar, confirmed it could no longer offer wireless services. The directive was dated from April 1.

In an effort to stifle communication and the flow of information, the junta has imposed nightly internet shutdowns. Mobile data has also been disabled for the 19th day, the company said. At China's insistence, the United Nations also softened the language of the statement, removing words such as "killing" and "deplore" to describe the use of violence against peaceful protesters. At least 543 people have been killed by junta forces, according to advocacy group the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP).

UNSC President Dang Dinh Quy detailed Thursday that members of the security council are deeply concerned by the "rapidly deteriorating situation" in Myanmar and "strongly condemn" the violence that has led to the "deaths of hundreds of civilians, including women and children".

Worldwide powers have sought to pile pressure on the military by hitting its sprawling business interests, which include the country's lucrative jade and ruby trade.

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In earlier versions of the text, obtained by AFP, Western nations wanted to include a "readiness to consider further steps" - a reference to the possibility of worldwide sanctions.

Beijing also insisted on softening a reference to the "killing" of hundreds of civilians and changing it to civilian "deaths".

The victims include more than 40 children, according to the NGO Save the Children.

"We have signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement".

Still, despite the lengthy negotiations, getting the Security Council to speak with one voice sent a "very important signal", one ambassador said on condition of anonymity. Russia's deputy UN Ambassador told reporters Wednesday that sanctions would represent intrusion into the internal affairs of a member country of the UN.

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar symbolically burned copies of the country's constitution Thursday as a group of deposed lawmakers announced a new civilian government to run counter to the ruling military junta. Refugees fleeing the turmoil are seeking safety in neighbouring countries.

Fears are growing that a broader conflict could erupt in a country plagued for decades by on-off fighting between the military and rebel ethnic armies.

The move, while more symbolic than practical, could help woo the country's armed ethnic militias to ally themselves with the mass protest movement based in cities and towns.

Members of the KNU shared a video with CNN that purports to show the aftermath of an airstrike at a gold mine in Dwe Lo, township, in Papun district on March 30.

Burgener didn't specify what action she considered significant, but she painted a dire picture of the military crackdown and told the council in a closed briefing that Myanmar "is on the verge of spiraling into a failed state".

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