Burma: pressure increases on the junta, which multiplies arrests

Appearance of anti-junta citizens’ committees, still massive demonstrations, resolution at the UN: while the arrests of opponents multiply in Burma, the pressure is increasing on the military in power since the coup of February 1 for a return fast to democracy and the liberation of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The mobilization against the coup d’état continued on Saturday, with new demonstrations started in the morning. On Friday, there were still hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the streets, despite the many arrests ordered by the junta.

Since the February 1 putsch, “more than 350 political leaders, state representatives, activists and members of civil society, including journalists, monks and students have been detained”, noted the UN during an extraordinary session of its Human Rights Council, deeming the use of violence against demonstrators “unacceptable”.

At this meeting, the regime of the generals came under pressure with the adoption of a resolution demanding the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Friday evening, citizen vigilance committees spontaneously sprang up across Burma, responsible for monitoring their neighborhood in the event of operations carried out by the authorities to arrest opponents.

A video filmed in a district of Rangoon, the largest city and economic capital of the country, showed many residents invading the streets, defying the curfew imposed at 8 p.m., after rumors of a raid by the police who had come to arrest people. dissidents.

Knocking on pots and pans, they would answer each other by shouting: “We, the people of San Chaung, are we united?”. “We are! We are!”

– Anti-junta citizens’ committees –

In Pathein (south), known for its traditional hand-painted parasols, hundreds of people marched at night towards the public hospital, some armed with sticks or iron bars, in an attempt to defend the chief doctor, including News of the army arrest quickly spread around town.

This doctor, who had joined the civil disobedience movement launched in the first hours after the putsch, was arrested while he was treating a patient.

“The police pointed their guns at him and forced him to follow him. We haven’t heard from him since,” his wife Phyu Lae Thu said.

In Rangoon, doctors, students and private sector employees walked on one of the city’s main arteries. Braving the ban on rallies, many wore red in the colors of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, others held up portraits of the former 75-year-old leader. , held incommunicado for 12 days.

Pro-democracy protesters hold up the portrait of their leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on February 12, 2021 (AFP – Sai Aung Main)

“We will only resume work when the civilian government of + Mother Suu + Kyi is restored. No matter the threats,” Wai Yan Phyo, a 24-year-old doctor, told AFP before the crowd dispersed at the start. evening.

Rallies were held in several other towns, with young people singing rap and performing “anti-coup dances”.

The protests were largely peaceful, but the tension was palpable.

The police brutally dispersed a sit-in in the south of the country. Several people were slightly injured by rubber bullets and at least five others were arrested.

– International pressure –

The situation in Burma has been at the heart of the international agenda for twelve days.

Washington announced Thursday blocking the assets and transactions in the United States of ten military officials or former soldiers held responsible for the putsch, including their leader Min Aung Hlain. Three companies, owned or controlled by the military in the lucrative gemstone business, are also targeted.

But Beijing and Moscow, traditional supporters of the Burmese army, once again gave it unwavering support during the United Nations Human Rights Council, their ambassadors simply assuring that it is a “matter of” internal “to the country.

Farmers hold up the portrait of their leader Aung San Suu Kyi near Yangon on February 12, 2021 (AFP - STR)
Farmers hold up the portrait of their leader Aung San Suu Kyi near Yangon on February 12, 2021 (AFP – STR)

The giants of the internet have for their part denounced a bill on cybersecurity that will allow the junta to force them to transmit user metadata.

Facebook, the main medium of communication for millions of Burmese, said it would reduce the visibility of content managed by the military, claiming that the army spread “false information”.

The generals contest the regularity of the November elections, won overwhelmingly by the NLD.

Burma has already lived under the yoke of the military for almost 50 years since its independence in 1948 with bloody repressions in 1988 and 2007.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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