A makeshift barricade erected by demonstrators against the military coup burns on a street in Yangon, March 29, 2021.
The U.S. has announced an immediate suspension of all trade and investment with Burma as the situation continues to rise, and the State Department ordered the evacuation of non-emergency personnel on March 30 and reiterated its call for people to stay away. In addition, the Burmese military has tightened press freedom across the board, putting independent media in jeopardy.
The U.S. Department of State updated its travel alert for Burma on February 30, changing from authorizing non-emergency U.S. government personnel and relatives to leave Burma voluntarily on February 14 to ordering them to evacuate.
The State Department maintained the highest level 4 travel alert issued for Burma in February, asking people not to travel. The alert states that the Burmese military has detained and deposed elected government officials, sparking anti-junta demonstrations and protests that are expected to continue.
Thousands of people took to the streets in protest as the Burmese military staged a coup on Feb. 1, and the military government used massive force to crack down on protesters. Reuters cited data from the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), which said Burmese security forces have killed at least 512 civilians in the past two months, including 141 on March 27.
The U.S. has repeatedly condemned the military’s actions and imposed sanctions since the outbreak of the coup in Burma. U.S. Trade Representative Dage further announced on the 29th that he would suspend all trade with Burma and will consider whether Burma meets internationally recognized labor rights eligibility standards.
Because of the role played by Burma-related unions and laborers in the protests, the Burmese military views unions and laborers as targets of attack, raising high concerns about the protection of labor rights in the outside world.
Protesters shout slogans near a temporary roadblock burning along a road during a protest against a military coup in Yangon, March 30, 2021. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Independent media call for support
After the military’s coup in early February, the massive and bloody crackdown on protesters spread around the world through news footage. The junta began targeting the media as a result, with the offices of independent media outlet Myanmar Now raided on March 8 and the junta subsequently revoking the licenses of five independent media outlets – DVB, 7 Days, Myanmar Today, Mizzima and Khitthit media.
Myanmar’s independent media workers believe that freedom of the press is important and that supporting independent journalism is vital to business in the face of the current crisis.