Myanmar Junta Continues Brutal Crackdown on Protesters

It has been more than five weeks since Myanmar’s military took full control of the Southeast Asia nation, removing the democratically elected government, in a move that has sparked nationwide anti-coup protests.Tens of thousands of citizens have taken to the streets in demonstrations that have included widespread strikes from the professional class aiming to stifle the rule of the junta government, officially the State Administrative Council (SAC).But despite street rallies that have become a daily occurrence, the military has ramped up efforts to silence demonstrators by aggressively responding with live ammunition to quell protests. Dozens have died, including members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of ousted de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.Anti-coup demonstrators sprays fire extinguishers over a barricade during a protests in Yangon, Myanmar, March 9, 2021.“Myanmar’s junta runs the security forces and can quickly find out who killed Khin Maung Latt if they want to. If they want to show they believe in the rule of law, all those responsible should be held account,” Brian Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch said.In response to the coup last month, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) was formed, representing the elected lawmakers of the ousted NLD party. After refusing to recognize the military, they have since notified diplomats and international parliaments they should liaise with the committee on government matters.  Arkar Myo Htet admitted as the brutal crackdown continues in Myanmar, like many other NLD members, he could be next.“I stay hiding already. I have to move every three days. Over 100 NLD MP’s are already in jail,” he said.But despite the risk he faces, he believes the people of Myanmar are not afraid to protest the military, unlike previous revolutions.“When they threat in 1988 and 2007, the people did not have, did not feel the freedom. After five years of NLD government, people feel what the meaning is of democracy, why we need democracy,” he added.But the military has stepped up their efforts to detain opposition members, legislator Sithu Maung added, saying that on Sunday evening his father had also been arrested.”My father Peter (from) Hlaing Township, NLD party member has been arrested by soldiers and police,” part of his post on Facebook read.He now waits anxiously on the fate of his father, just like many families who have had loved ones detained with little update on their condition. The AAPPB reported that 1,857 have been detained with 1,538 still in detention or have faced charges since the coup began.Protesters in Myanmar Demand Security Forces Release Trapped YouthsUN and US urge restraint against youths barricaded inside residential apartmentsMyanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by armed forces from 1962 until 2011 when democratic reforms led by Aung San Suu Kyi ended the military rule. In 2015, her NLD party won the country’s first open democratic election.In the general elections in November 2020, the military-backed opposition lost heavily to Suu Kyi’s democracy party. The opposition contested the results, claiming there was widespread electoral fraud.On February 1, the Myanmar military, also known as Tatmadaw, removed the NLD government.NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained and additionally charged. The military announced a one-year-long state of emergency with commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing taking power. He later announced a “free and fair general election” would be held.Zin Thu Aung contributed to this report.

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