Terrified by the junta’s crackdown and the coronavirus outbreak, very few Burmese dare to take to the streets this Sunday to mark the six-month anniversary of the coup that plunged the country into chaos. A week after having canceled the result of the legislative elections of 2020, won massively by the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing, took the floor to promise the holding of a new ballot “of here August 2023 “.
“We are working to establish a democratic multi-party system,” said the general, as Suu Kyi, 76, begins her seventh month under house arrest. On social networks, young opponents urged the fall of the regime. “I promise to fight this dictatorship for as long as I live,” “We will not kneel under the boots of the military,” they said, waving a three-fingered salute in resistance.
The pandemic “as a weapon against the population”
Small demonstrations were organized, as in Kaley (west) where residents marched under banners in tribute to political prisoners: “the songs of the detainees are forces for the revolution”, could one read on one of the between them. But the majority of Burmese remained locked in their homes, terrorized by the violence of the security forces and the outbreak.
The United Kingdom, the former colonial power, has warned the United Nations that half of the population, or around 27 million people, could be infected with Covid-19 within the next two weeks, calling the situation “hopeless. “and urging the Security Council to act to enable the delivery of vaccines.
The UN estimates that only 40% of health facilities in the country are still functional while a large part of the medical staff is still on strike in protest against the coup. Some caregivers, targeted by arrest warrants, are on the run, others are already behind bars.
The Burmese army “uses the Covid-19 as a weapon against the population”, recently declared Susanna Hla Hla Soe of the government of national unity, set up by opponents in hiding. The medical profession is not the only target. In six months, 940 civilians were shot dead by security forces, including 75 minors, hundreds have disappeared and more than 5,400 are behind bars, according to a monitoring NGO.
“Crimes against humanity”
“Murders, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, rape (…) these attacks against the population are akin to crimes against humanity for which those responsible must be held to account”, noted Saturday Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia Director.
Despite the harshness of the regime, resistance is organized. The large peaceful protests gave way to an armed response led by citizen militias, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF).
Some lead an urban guerrilla war, others have found refuge in the north and east of the country in territories controlled by rebel ethnic factions who train them and launch their own operations against the military. These different movements remain independent of each other to keep as many fronts open as possible.
However, “there is a strong spirit of unity against the army and for a federal Burma. It is totally new in the country”, dominated since its independence in 1948 by interethnic conflicts, underlines Françoise Nicolas, Asia director at the French Institute of International Relations.
Ineffective financial sanctions
If on the military level the junta is destabilized by these groups of insurgents, it keeps control on the economic level. It manages many businesses, from beer to precious stones, and has regained control since the putsch on natural gas, which represents an annual rent of around $ 1 billion.
The financial sanctions put in place by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom did not bend the generals, protected by their Chinese and Russian allies. And the UN General Assembly resolution, adopted at the end of June to call on “all member states to prevent the flow of arms” to the country, is not binding.
Charged with a multitude of offenses (illegal importation of walkie-talkies, corruption, sedition …), Aung San Suu Kyi risks long years in prison. A first trial, denounced as “a parody of justice” by many observers, opened in mid-June.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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