In the protests against the military coup in Myanmar, the police are increasingly reacting with violence. On Tuesday, security forces used water cannons and rubber bullets against demonstrators for the first time, as can be seen on videos on social networks. The re were numerous injuries and photos on Twitter showed demonstrators bleeding. The security forces are also said to have fired sharply: A student was hit by a bullet in the head in the capital Naypyidaw.
According to the news portal “Frontier Myanmar”, she is in critical condition. Dozens of participants were reportedly arrested. It was the fourth day of resistance in a row. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have taken to the streets since the weekend. The y are calling for the restoration of the civilian government under Aung San Suu Kyi, who ousted the military on the night of February 1st. However, observers have warned of an escalation. In the past, the Myanmar military has bloodily crushed any protest.
The United Nations was deeply concerned about “reports from Naypyidaw, Mandalay and other cities that numerous demonstrators have been injured, some seriously,” a statement said. “I call on the security forces to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Ola Almgren, head of the UN mission in Myanmar.
Since Monday evening, there have been curfews between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. in areas of the major cities of Yangon (Rangoon) and Mandalay, as well as other cities and districts, which have been severely affected by protests. In addition, gatherings of more than five people, public speeches and protests are prohibited, as the newspaper “Myanmar Times” reported with reference to announcements by the administration.
The military had taken the de facto Prime Minister Suu Kyi and numerous other top politicians into custody on the night of February 1. Since then, the former freedom icon has not been seen, but is said to be under house arrest.
President Win Myint, who was also detained in his residence, was apparently moved to another location on Tuesday, activist Nimrod Andrew reported. Win Myint was seen in a video handcuffed in a car.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has severed all political and military contacts with Myanmar. In addition, a travel ban will be imposed on members of the military junta, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “Our strong message is that we will do everything we can from here in New Zealand,” said the Prime Minister.
The New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that even aid programs for Myanmar should not include projects that are managed by the military government or from which it benefits. “We do not recognize the legitimacy of the military-led government and call on the military to immediately release all arrested politicians and reinstate the civilian government,” it said.
Aotearoa New Zealand🇳🇿 does not recognise the legitimacy of Myanmar??s military-led government. Following last week??s coup, we are suspending high level engagement with Myanmar amongst a range of other measures. https://t.co/D3rJPQX1FT
?? Nanaia Mahuta (@NanaiaMahuta) February 9, 2021
The rule of law and the democratic will of the people in Myanmar must be respected, said Mahuta. Together with other countries, New Zealand is also campaigning for a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the situation in the Southeast Asian country.
49 years of military dictatorship until 2011
The current coup brings back memories of almost half a century of military rule. After a coup in 1962, the military had ruled the country for 49 years. In 2011 the military began to withdraw from politics bit by bit, but it never gave up control of the civilian government. The 2008 constitution guarantees the military veto power in parliament and control over certain ministries. Protesters are therefore calling for the constitution to be repealed.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was under house arrest for around fifteen years between 1989 and 2010. Even if her international reputation was damaged because she kept silent about the expulsion of the Rohingya Muslim minority by the military, the 75-year-old is still extremely popular in her home country.
The growing movement of civil disobedience to the recent coup has gripped hospitals, schools and administrations. (what, dpa, reuters)