Published: Sat, April 03, 2021

Myanmar military cuts internet but anti-coup protesters remain defiant

Myanmar military cuts internet but anti-coup protesters remain defiant

Foreign governments are protesting the junta's treatment of their nationals, including a South Korean bank employee shot in the head while riding on a bus this week, and Australian economics professor Sean Turnell, an adviser to elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested along with her and charged with violating Myanmar's official secrets law.

Global powers have sought to pile pressure on the military by hitting its sprawling business interests, which include the country's lucrative jade and ruby trade.

Britain on Thursday blacklisted one of the military's conglomerates, following similar measures from other Western countries.

The junta has accused her of several minor crimes including illegally importing six handheld radios and breaching coronavirus protocols but a domestic media outlet reported on Wednesday she could be charged with treason, which can be punishable by death.

"Australia continues to seek his immediate release and official information about the reasons for his detention both in Myanmar and through (its) embassy in Australia", the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Friday.

Her lawyers have said the charges she faces were trumped up. In Yangon, several retail shops owned in whole or part by Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd., an investment arm of the military, went up in flames.

The next court hearing on these charges will be held on April 12. "We must win and the junta must fail". The air raids followed the seizure by the KNU's military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), of a hilltop outpost previously held by the regime's Light Infantry Division 349 in Thi Mu Hta on March 27.

A directive from the Ministry of Transport and Communications on Thursday instructed that "all wireless broadband data services be temporarily suspended until further notice", according to a statement posted online by local provider Ooredoo.

Military coup leaders are pushing the country into a full-blown civil war with the potential to destroy the country's stability, unity and independence, the KNU said.

"The military junta's widespread use of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances appears created to strike fear in the hearts of anti-coup protesters", said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch's Asia director. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in a crackdown by security forces that has drawn global condemnation.

"Myanmar Red Cross first aiders and medics have been wrongfully arrested, intimidated or injured and Red Cross property and ambulances have been damaged".

Security forces have been unable to crush the massive public resistance to the coup despite their use of escalating violence, including routinely shooting protesters.

Burgener didn't specify what action she considered significant, but she painted a dire picture of the military crackdown and told the council in a closed briefing that Myanmar "is on the verge of spiraling into a failed state".

Ten of Myanmar's major rebel groups have thrown their support behind the country's anti-coup movement, fanning fears that a broader conflict could erupt in a country plagued for decades by on-and-off fighting between the military and the ethnic armed forces.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the reimposed military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy.

In another escalation, since Saturday the military has launched regular air strikes targeting the KNU in eastern Karen state.

Authorities have issued warrants for 18 show business celebrities, social media "influencers" and two journalists under a law against material meant to cause a member of the armed forces to mutiny or disregard their duty, state media reported. AFP has yet to independently confirm these details.

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