In Myanmar, demonstrators gathered in their largest numbers so far on Wednesday to protest the military’s takeover of power as a U.N. The human rights expert cautioned that soldiers being brought to Yangon and elsewhere could signal the likelihood of serious abuse.
Oh! U.N. Tom Andrews, the rapporteur, said he was alarmed by news that soldiers were being transported to Yangon, the largest city.
“Such troop movements have in the past preceded mass killings, disappearances, and detentions,” he said in a statement released by the U.N. late Tuesday. Office of Human Rights in Geneva. “I am terrified that we might be on the precipice of the military committing even greater crimes against the people of Myanmar, given the confluence of these two developments – planned mass protests and troops converging.”
In violation of an order barring gatherings of five or more people, fresh protests roiled Yangon, the second largest city of Mandalay and the capital of Naypyitaw.
“Let’s march massively. “Let’s show our strength against the coup government that has destroyed the future of youth and our country,” Kyi Toe, spokesman for the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, wrote on his Facebook page.
The turnout in Yangon on Wednesday appeared to be one of the highest in the city so far. A technique of blocking roads from security forces by parking cars in groups with their hoods up and the excuse of engine trouble was embraced by protesters.
In Naypyitaw, thousands marched down its wide boulevards, including private bank employees and engineers, chanting for the release of Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
Protesters also poured into the Mandalay streets, where security forces pointed weapons at a gathering of 1,000 protesters on Monday and beat them with slingshots and sticks. Local media confirmed that rubber bullets were also fired into a crowd by police and that a few people were wounded.
The marches, spearheaded by medical staff and sponsored by many civil servants, were organised as part of a civil disobedience campaign.
As Suu Kyi’s party was about to begin a second five-year term after winning a landslide in November’s election, the Feb. 1 coup brought an abrupt halt to Myanmar’s shaky progress toward democracy. With claims of systematic electoral irregularities, the military justified its takeover, although the election commission found no proof of serious fraud. Before holding new elections, the junta says it will retain power for a year.
As her lawyer said Tuesday, police filed a new complaint against Suu Kyi, a move likely to hold her under house arrest and further fuel public outrage.
Suu Kyi has also been convicted of unlawful possession of walkie-talkies. After speaking with a judge, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters that the latest allegation involves a statute that has been used to convict persons who have breached coronavirus restrictions. It carries a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.
A strong denunciation of a legal ploy against Suu Kyi was given by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The Myanmar military’s new charges against Aung San Suu Kyi are a clear violation of her human rights,” he tweeted. “We stand with the people of Myanmar and will ensure that those responsible are held to account for this coup.”
Oh! U.N. Speaker Stéphane Dujarric said the world body was standing by its denunciation of the coup and called for the dropping of charges against Suu Kyi and for her to be released.
The military ordered an internet blackout for a third night in a row, almost completely restricting web access from 1 a.m. Towards 9 a.m. A draught law that would tighten cyberspace surveillance and criminalise certain online activities has also been prepared.
While the military did not say why the internet was blocked, there is widespread speculation that a firewall system is being built by the government to allow it to track or block online activity. Users of social media have widely hypothesised that neighbouring China was offering technical assistance for such a project, with considerable expertise in censoring the internet.
So far, China has not condemned the takeover. Some protesters have accused Beijing of helping the junta, which has long been Myanmar’s main weapons supplier and has significant investments in the country.
According to the text of an interview posted on the embassy’s Facebook page Tuesday, China’s Ambassador Chen Hai said Beijing wished the protesters and the military could address their differences through dialogue.
“Myanmar’s current development is absolutely not what China wants to see,” he said.
Chen also denied that China had supported Myanmar in regulating its internet traffic and that Chinese soldiers had appeared on the streets of Myanmar.
“These are utter nonsense and even ridiculous accusations for the record,” Chen said.