Published: Tue, February 16, 2021
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Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters

Myanmar: Soldiers Fire at Crowds of Protesters

The internet in Myanmar was shut down from 1am to 9am on February 15.

The coup and arrest of Nobel Peace Prize victor Suu Kyi and others have sparked the biggest protests in Myanmar in more than a decade, with hundreds of thousands coming on to the streets to denounce the military's derailment of a tentative transition to democracy.

Myanmar's junta cut the nation's internet and deployed extra troops around the country on Monday as fears built of a widespread crackdown on anti-coup protests, but defiant demonstrators again took to the streets.

The military seized power in Myanmar on February1, detaining Suu Kyi and members of her government and preventing recently elected lawmakers from opening a new session of Parliament.

Her lawyer says she will be remanded in detention until Wednesday, two days longer than initially expected. The authorities have previously sought with mixed success to block social networks, and also shut off access to the internet for about a day.

But fresh protests again flared in the city, including near the central bank where troops were deployed.

As people took to the streets for the eighth consecutive day on Saturday, protesters chanted: "Stop arresting people at night-time".

The violence prompted a call for peace from the United Nations.

Schraner Burgener spoke to Myanmar's Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Soe Win, on Monday and conveyed Guterres' growing concern at the military's increasing use of force and arrests of political leaders, government officials and others, Haq said.

The junta, led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said it stepped in because the government failed to properly investigate allegations of fraud in last year's election, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.

The envoy noted that such shutdowns "hurt key sectors, including banking, and heighten domestic tensions".

More than a dozen police trucks with four water cannon vehicles were deployed on Monday near the Sule Pagoda in central Yangon, one of the main demonstration sites in the city, where protesters had gathered outside the central bank and the Chinese embassy.

"Just like those in Myanmar, we outside the country feel the same way and want to send our message", said Win Kyaw, who has lived in Japan for 33 years and works at a restaurant.

Violence this time has been limited, although police have opened fire on several occasions to disperse protesters. "Now everything is settled".

He spent nearly two decades imprisoned because of his political activities, and went into hiding the day of this year's coup, but was reportedly seen briefly last week at one protest in Yangon.

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar and called for the release of detained leaders including Suu Kyi.

Large demonstrations were held in the major cities of Yangon, Mandalay and the capital, Naypyitaw, as well as in far-flung areas dominated by ethnic minorities.

Demonstrators retaliated by throwing bricks, according to a medic at the scene, while journalists said police had beaten them in the melee.

U Khin Maung Zaw said he hasn't met his client so far.

They said they hoped the Japanese government and people would try to help Myanmar by rejecting and putting pressure on the junta, including with economic sanctions.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, spent almost 15 years under house arrest for her efforts to end military rule.

Security forces have arrested some people joining a civil disobedience movement that has seen huge crowds throng big urban centres and isolated frontier villages alike.

With protestors refusing to back down, the generals imposed an internet shutdown on Monday and ratcheted up the military's presence across the country.

"There is suspicion this blackout was to commit unjust activities, including arbitrary arrests", said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners group, which has recorded 426 arrests between the coup and Monday.

"Some 15 embassies including those of the European Union and Britain issued a statement late on February 15 calling on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government".

The US embassy advised American citizens to shelter in place and warned of another potential nationwide internet blackout.

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