© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Senior Lieutenant General Min Aung Hlaing of the Myanmar army, who toppled the elected government in a coup, presides over an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27 year 2021. REUTERS / Stringer
(Reuters) – Streets in some of Myanmar’s main cities were nearly deserted on Tuesday as opponents of the military regime staged “silent strikes” on the one-year anniversary of the coup. leads to deadly chaos and bypasses tentative steps towards democracy.
The United States, Britain and Canada have imposed new sanctions on the military and joined others in calling for a global halt to arms sales to Myanmar, a year after Aung San Suu Kyi’s government-elect was ousted. overthrow.
Since the bloody crackdown on protests in the weeks following the coup, the army has faced armed resistance on multiple fronts in the countryside from groups allied to the ousted government. .
On Tuesday, an explosion occurred during a parade of army supporters in the eastern border town of Tachileik, two witnesses told Reuters. One of the witnesses said the explosion killed two people and injured more than 30 others.
State media on Tuesday said army chief Min Aung Hlaing had extended the state of emergency for another six months to address threats from “internal and external vandals” as well as “insurgency attacks”. attack and destroy terrorism”.
Activists urged people to stay indoors and businesses to close silently in a show of defiance, despite warnings about arrests, jails and confiscation of businesses.
“We can get caught and go to jail if we’re lucky. We can be tortured and killed if we’re unlucky,” said activist Nan Lin.
An army spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Pictures on social media showed quiet streets in various cities including Mandalay, Magway, Myitkyina and Yangon, where photos on a page later posted by strike organizers showed a small protest where people threw red paint on the ground.
A man set himself on fire in the central town of Kyaukdataung and was in a serious condition hospitalized, according to a resident and local news agencies, which said the man was protesting the interrupted power supply.
“He set himself on fire on Main Street in front of the electricity office,” one resident told Reuters by phone. “He is in a serious condition. The situation here is quite unstable today.”
There were also pro-military events in several locations, including the capital Naypyitaw, where thousands attended a rally, some dancing and holding up photographs of Min. Aung Hlaing, with banners wishing him good health.
No claim of responsibility for the explosion in Tachileik and a local militia group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The town’s news agency said a soldier was among the two killed, and veterans among the wounded.
“We all heard an explosion and people ran randomly, shouting,” a witness told Reuters by phone. “I hide in the house.”
Another witness told Reuters that two people died instantly and the town was now in ruins.
HUGE MONEY BACK
Such violence has become commonplace in Myanmar in the year since Suu Kyi and other ruling party members were arrested as they prepared to take seats in parliament, after winning the 2020 elections. which the generals accused them of cheating.
The coup sparked a backlash, with strikes and demonstrations resulting in about 1,500 civilians being killed in the crackdown and more than 11,787 being illegally detained, according to the human resources office’s figures. United Nations authority on Tuesday.
An army spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on the UN figures. It has previously disputed similar numbers from human rights groups.
The United Nations human rights expert on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, on Tuesday said the government was operating like a criminal enterprise, harming people and stealing their resources.
“The international community must take strong and meaningful steps to reduce the military’s access to weapons, funds and legitimacy,” said Andrews.
The military has accused the United Nations of bias and interference and refused to bow to international pressure, despite the business retreat from Myanmar and sanctions.
The army ruled for decades after a coup in 1962 but began to withdraw from politics in 2010, freeing Suu Kyi from years of house arrest.
Her party formed a government after the 2015 elections, but was required to share power with the military until the army abruptly ended its reform trial a year ago.
Since then, life has become difficult for many with a weakened economy, frequent power cuts and internet restrictions.
Suu Kyi, 76, is being tried in more than a dozen cases with a combined sentence of more than 150 years in prison.
An internationally backed diplomatic effort led by Southeast Asian countries has failed.
“Unfortunately, up to this point there has been no significant progress,” the Indonesian foreign ministry said.
Singapore said conditions for the people of Myanmar continued to deteriorate and called for progress and the release of Ms. Suu Kyi.
(This story has been edited to correct typos)