Military police surround a group of young protesters in Sanchaung district late Monday night (8).
In Myanmar, where a military coup took place on Feb. 1, military and police surrounded some 200 protesters overnight in Yangon, the country’s largest city, in a humanitarian crisis similar to the 2019 “Rida siege,” and the United Nations expressed deep concern over the incident and asked the military to let the protesters leave safely. Reuters reported that the protesters could not leave until around 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The protesters resorted to “guerrilla” flash mobs on Tuesday, but were still strongly suppressed by the military and police. The military revoked the licenses of five independent media outlets on Monday, and local media workers say freedom of the press in Myanmar is at stake.
A local protest group said more than 60 protesters had been killed and more than 1,800 held for questioning by Tuesday. Flash mob demonstrations continued in Yangon and Burmese towns on Tuesday, but the military government deployed large security forces to use tear gas and shock grenades to forcefully suppress them. Two people were injured in Mohnyin, northern Burma, and local residents said one of them suffered a gunshot wound.
Reuters quoted protester Shar Ya Mone as saying she was trapped in a building with 15 to 20 of her companions and was only allowed to return Home on Tuesday morning, she said in a telephone interview, “There are many people who came to the righteous load, and people are very supportive of the protesters.” Other protesters who were surrounded in other places said that some of the military and police left the scene at around 3 a.m. and they stayed until 5 a.m. before they dared to leave.
Some of the protesters who were surrounded overnight said that the military disconnected the Internet from 1 a.m. every night, and when the Internet was disconnected in the early hours of Tuesday, the military and police searched homes one by one in the hope of finding protesters, with units flying the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, as the main target of the search. Some residents said they did not help the protesters hide, but they were searched by the military, “they searched all the buildings on Kun Taw Road (Kyun Taw Road), if they are locked downstairs, the military police will immediately open the lock and break the door.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier tweeted that it was deeply concerned about the fate of some 200 peaceful demonstrators, including some women. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the police to allow them to leave immediately and safely without reprisal.
Late Monday night, military police surrounded a group of young protesters in Sanchaung district, causing discontent among local residents who chanted “Free the Sanchaung students. Police fired shock bombs and even shot to disperse the protesters, with footage from social media sites showing the protesters ducking into the streets between houses after police fired shock bombs. Protest leader Maung Saungkha tweeted an appeal to people at home and abroad to save the besieged protesters.
Maung Saungkha also pointed out that Maung Yu Pie, a poet from the southeastern Burmese city of Myeik, was arrested on Tuesday. He also said that Ko Zaw Myat Lynn, a member of the National League for Democracy and head of the vocational college, was arrested Monday night and his body was returned to his Family by the military police on Tuesday.
At least 18 trade unions in Myanmar launched a general strike on Monday, planning to paralyze the economy for an extended period of Time and in line with the civil servant-initiated civil disobedience.
Myanmar’s 5 Independent Media Licenses Revoked, Military Police Search Media
The Burmese military police raided the offices of independent media outlet Myanmar Now on Monday. State-run Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) reported Monday evening that the military government had revoked the licenses of DVB, 7 Days, Myanmar Now, Mizzima and Khitthit media. Burmese media workers have expressed concern that the military is tightening press freedom across the board.
“Myanmar Today issued a statement Monday evening, saying that the military police broke into its offices that afternoon and confiscated computers, printers and some servers. The statement noted that Burma Today’s news staff had been out of the office since Jan. 28, so no one was arrested. However, Myanmar Today reporter Kay Zon Nway was arrested by military police in February while broadcasting live from the protest site and is expected to be detained until March 12.
“Myanmar Today editor-in-chief Swe Win said the search by the military police confirmed speculation that the military does not intend to allow any press freedom in Myanmar. By continuing to report the news, Swe Win said, Burma Today is risking their staff being killed or imprisoned, “but what is certain is that we will not stop reporting on the huge crimes committed by the military in Burma.”
A media personality in Yangon said that the military and police had previously arrested individual journalists, and that this was the first time the military had directly targeted media organizations, and that the independent media in Burma would face increasing pressure, “I am worried whether the military intends to tighten press freedom across the board.”