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Classics Burma: a little less demonstrators in the street, facing the military deployment

13:15  15 february  2021
13:15  15 february  2021 Source:   leparisien.fr

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Le Parisien © Supplied by Le Parisien Le Parisien

pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets again this Monday in Burma, but they were less numerous than in previous days, due to the intensifying repression by the junta, which deployed troops in the country.

Several hundred protesters were nevertheless seated near the headquarters of the central bank, in the north of Rangoon - the economic capital - to call on the civil servants to go on strike. Some waved red flags in the colors of the National League for Democracy (LND), Aung San Suu Kyi's party, others called for "driving out the dictatorship".

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The crowd was still less dense than in previous days, according to AFP journalists on site. In addition to the presence of law enforcement, supported by water cannons and military trucks, some companies had emailed their employees urging them not to demonstrate. "They are trying to scare us by deploying the soldiers," said one protester, while another assured that "the popular movements do not stop."

Other rallies were held across the country, including in Naypyidaw, the administrative capital built by the junta. According to a local journalist, several dozen people were arrested, including around 20 students.

Repression hardens

The day before, the soldiers had deployed in several cities of the country. Enough to revive worrying memories of the past, especially the popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007, which were bloodily suppressed by the army. Since the protests began in early February, law enforcement has already violently dispersed rallies, shooting at protesters. A 20-year-old woman, seriously injured last week, remains in critical condition.

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On Sunday, several people were injured in the north of the country. A local journalist could not tell AFP whether live ammunition or rubber ammunition was used. Five journalists were arrested during a rally and The Internet was virtually cut off for much of the night from Sunday to Monday, but connections were restored in the morning.

In reaction to the waves of nocturnal arrests, citizen vigilance committees have spontaneously emerged: residents are tasked with monitoring their neighborhood in the event of operations carried out by the authorities to arrest opponents.

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These demonstrations - the most important since the “saffron revolution” led by monks in 2007 - take place in response to the putsch of February 1, who overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and ended a fragile 10-year democratic transition. The 75-year-old ex-leader has been charged with illegally importing walkie-talkies. She is under house arrest and "in good health", according to her party, the National League for Democracy (LND). It should appear in court this Wednesday.

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Myanmar military presence in Yangon has not stopped protesters against the coup - standing in front of armored vehicles here to support civil disobedience movement #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/YoziETt4xo

- Matthew Tostevin (@TostevinM) February 15, 2021

Since the putsch, nearly 400 people - politicians, activists, doctors, students - have been arrested.

International reactions

This escalation of repression has been condemned by the UN. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged the junta to "ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is fully respected", asking the generals to "urgently" authorize Swiss diplomat Christine Schraner Burgener to come to the site "for assess the situation directly ”.

The heads of the junta will be "held responsible" for the violence, warned Tom Andrews, United Nations special rapporteur for Burma, while diplomatic representatives of the United States, Canada and several countries of the United Nations 'European Union urged the military "not to resort to violence". Washington has also detailed a series of sanctions against several generals, asking them to surrender power. In vain.

The putschist generals dispute the regularity of the legislative elections in November, which were won overwhelmingly by the LND. They claim to have taken power in accordance with the Constitution and have ordered journalists to stop talking about a "coup".

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