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Myanmar’s military is killing peaceful protesters. Here’s what you need to know

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At least 138 people, including children, have been killed since the coup, according to the United Nations Office of Human Rights. And more than 2,100, included journalists, protesters, activists, government officials, trade unionists, writers, students and civilians – have been detained, often in night raids, according to the advocacy group’s Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP). Although activists put these two figures as the highest.

This is what you need to know about the situation.

Why did the Myanmar military take power?

The military justified its takeover by alleging widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 general election, which gave Suu Kyi’s party another overwhelming victory.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) unfortunately acted in the poll, dropping hopes among some of its military sponsors that it could take power democratically or at least elect the next president. The military then claimed that, without providing evidence, there were more than 10.5 million cases of “possible fraud, such as non-existent voters” and called on the Electoral Commission to publicly release the final survey data. .

The commission rejected these allegations of election fraud.

It was only the second democratic vote since the previous board initiated a series of reforms in 2011, after half a century of brutal military rule that plunged Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, into poverty and isolationism.

Analysts say the inauguration was less for electoral irregularities and more for the military wanting to maintain control of the country, which would see five more years of reform in a second term for the NLD and Suu Kyi.

Why is Myanmar protesting?

It would undo the previous decade of reforms, which have seen political and economic liberalization and the transition to a hybrid democracy, millions of people of all ages and social backgrounds. go out daily across the country.
Protesters demand that military power return power to civilian control and take full responsibility for them, and demand the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders. Myanmar is many minority ethnic groups, who have long fought for greater autonomy for their lands, are also calling for the abolition of the written constitution by the 2008 army and the establishment of a federal democracy.

Demonstrations, especially those taking positions on the front lines behind the barricades, are dominated by young people who have grown up with a level of democracy and political and economic freedoms that their parents or grandparents did not have, who are unwilling to give up. . .

Meanwhile, a civil disobedience movement has seen thousands of white and blue workers, from doctors, bankers and lawyers to teachers, engineers and factory workers, leave their jobs as a form of resistance to the coup.

The strikes have disrupted health, banking, rail and administrative services, among others. Local media The Myanmar border reported Strike truck drivers, customs agents and banks and port workers have stopped international trade through Yangon ports.

How does the military respond?

In recent weeks, the military has intensified its response to the protests. Images and images on social media show crumpled bodies lying in pools of blood on the streets and young protesters dressed in fragile plastic helmets crouched to cover themselves with police bullets behind makeshift shields.

Amnesty International said the military is using increasingly lethal tactics and weapons that are commonly seen on the battlefield against peaceful protesters and spectators. Troops hardened in battle, documented for human rights abuses in conflict zones, have been deployed on the streets, Amnesty said. UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews said the army’s “brutal response” to peaceful protests “probably meets the legal threshold for crimes against humanity.”

Under the cover of a night Internet blackout, security forces go door-to-door in night raids, dragging people from their homes. Many of the detainees are arbitrarily kept out of contact with family and friends, their status or whereabouts unknown.

Military trucks are seen near a burning barricade, erected by protesters who were later set on fire by soldiers, during a crackdown on protests against the military coup in Yangon on March 10.

At least four of the deaths in recent days were people arrested and detained by the board, including two expelled NLD party officials. All four were arrested, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Family groups and activists reported that the two NLD officials were tortured.

The military has also tried to crack down on independent media, suspending five-point licenses and arresting journalists. The Associated Press has demanded release of his journalist Thein Zaw, who was arrested and charged with “simply doing his job” while covering violent demonstrations against the US news agency’s coup.

Despite the danger, thousands of young protesters have continued to challenge the military and take to the streets every day, and local journalists and citizen journalists continue to risk their lives live and document the crackdown.

The board has said yes using the constraint against what he called “revolting protesters.” In a speech published in Myanmar’s Global New Light state fog, Min Aung Hlaing said the police force “controls the situation using minimal force and through the least harmful means.”

“The MPF is doing its job in accordance with democratic practices and the measures it is taking are even softer than those of other countries,” he said.

What happened to Aung San Suu Kyi?

Suu Kyi was once celebrated as an icon of international democracy. A former political prisoner, she spent 15 years under house arrest as part of a decades-long struggle against the military government.

His freedom in 2010 and electoral victory five years later were praised by Western governments as emblematic moments of the country’s transition to democratic government after 50 years of military regimes.

Suu Kyi has been hit with four charges this could result in years in prison and he remains under house arrest, having been detained by the military in the hours leading up to the coup. These charges, which have been called “outdated” include one in accordance with the country’s import and export law, the second in relation to a national disaster law, a third under the penal code of the colonial era which prohibits posting information that can “cause fear or alarm,” and the fourth under a telecommunications law that establishes equipment licenses, his lawyer said.
She was shot dead, her body unearthed and her grave full of cement.  But his struggle is not over
The military has done the same accused the ousted leader of bribery and corruption. Military spokesman Brig. General Zaw Min Tun said at a news conference that Suu Kyi accepted illegal payments worth $ 600,000 and gold while in government. His lawyer called the allegations “complete fabrication.”

Suu Kyi has not been seen by the public or her lawyers since she was arrested. The ousted president, Win Myint, has also been arrested since the coup and faces similar charges.

Officials with the ruling NLD have been arrested or hidden since the coup. A group of former NLD lawmakers have formed a kind of parallel civil parliament (called the Committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)) and are pushing for international recognition as a legitimate government.

The group’s acting leader, Mahn Win Khaing Than he promised pursuing a “revolution” to overthrow the governing board.

What does the UN do?

Protesters, activists and civilians have called on the international community to intervene and protect Burmese from military attacks.

Several governments around the world have condemned the coup, while the United States and the United Kingdom have sanctions imposed on Myanmar’s military leaders. The European Union has also said it plans to introduce specific sanctions that could be extended to include army-linked companies.
Last week, the 15 members of the UN Security Council supported unanimously the loudest statement since the coup, which “strongly condemns violence against peaceful protesters” and called on the military to “exercise maximum restraint.”
UN diplomats told CNN that China, Russia, and Vietnam opposed a tougher language that called the events “a coup” and, in a draft, forced the removal of language that would have threatened subsequent actions, possibly sanctions.

China has not fully condemned the military acquisition, but in comments following the Security Council agreement, UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said that “it is important for Council members to speak with one voice. We hope that the Council ‘s message will be conducive to alleviating the situation in Myanmar. “

Barn bearers carry the coffin of Ye Swe Oo, who was shot dead on March 13 during a crackdown by security forces on protesters protesting the military coup in Mandalay on March 14.

After the burning of Chinese-owned factories in Yangon this week, China has taken a more aggressive tone. The Chinese embassy in Myanmar said that “China urges Myanmar to take more effective measures to stop all acts of violence, punish perpetrators in accordance with the law and ensure the safety of life and property of companies and Chinese staff in Myanmar, “according to Chinese. state broadcaster CGTN.

Many in Myanmar are frustrated by simple words of condemnation and demand more meaningful actions.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, he told CNN the message of the UN Security Council “does not meet the expectations of the peoples.” And you can see the protesters carrying placards that say “R2P” referring to the UN’s global political commitment called Responsibility for Protection, which wants to ensure that the international community never stops curbing massive atrocities such as genocide, crimes of war, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. .

A group of 137 non-governmental organizations from 31 countries have called on the UN Security Council to urgently impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar.

Andrews, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, has urged member states to “deny the recognition of the military junta as a legitimate government.” He also called for an end to the flow of revenue and weapons to the Board, and said multilateral sanctions should be “imposed” on senior leaders, controlled and military-owned companies and the state energy firm Myanmar Oil. and Gas Enterprise.

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