Protests against coup continue for fifth day in Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | Wed, February 10, 2021 | 08:55 pm

Protests against last week’s military coup continued in Myanmar for a fifth day on Wednesday, while the United States, the European Union and others condemned violence against demonstrators the previous day. As demonstrators defied a ban on large gatherings and their numbers grew into the hundreds of thousands on Tuesday, police fired warning shots and rubber bullets, and some injuries were confirmed including a young woman on life support after being shot in the head. Protests continued on Wednesday, including in Yangon, the largest town, and Naypyidaw, the capital.

The Yangon headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the faction of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the Feb. 1 takeover, were searched by authorities on Tuesday night. There is a growing concern that the military may attempt to dismantle the party, with Suu Kyi and other senior party officials detained and other NLD offices already searched. Ned Price, the US State Department spokesman, said Tuesday, “We strongly condemn violence against demonstrators,” All people in Burma have the right to freedom of speech, association and peaceful assembly, including for peaceful protest purposes,”All individuals in Burma have rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, including for the purposes of peaceful protest,”

The U.S. government is calling on the military to give up power, free those detained, and refrain from violence, Price said, indicating that in the coming days the government might unveil a new strategy on the country. Following the coup, President Joe Biden’s administration has been weighing steps such as reducing assistance to Myanmar and placing sanctions on the government. Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy leader, also told the European Parliament on Tuesday that the European Union is weighing sanctions against Myanmar, including “additional targeted sanctions on individuals and on businesses owned by the military.”

Borrell disclosed the possibilities of reviewing Myanmar’s development assistance and limiting trade with the country, but warned against “rushing into measures that would adversely affect the most vulnerable part of the population.” At a meeting of foreign ministers on Feb. 22, EU member countries are scheduled to address the matter at a meeting of foreign ministers. The European Union has also placed a ban on Myanmar’s weapons exports and restrictions on military leaders over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims as a minority. After rejecting the results of last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s NLD won by a landslide, the Myanmar military initiated the coup. The NLD, which took control in 2016 after a landslide win in the 2015 general election, was set to start a second term in government.

After a one-year state of emergency, the military has pledged to hold a referendum, with power transferred to the winning party. Huge demonstrations erupted on Saturday and have since been held every day. Authorities have enforced a ban on gatherings of more than four people and a night-time curfew in parts of the country, including Yangon, Naypyidaw and Mandalay, the second largest city. On Tuesday, two demonstrators with bullet wounds, one with a terminal wound to the head and the other hit in the chest but in less critical condition, were admitted to the Naypyidaw Government Hospital, a doctor at the hospital told local media. The doctor, who was not named, said the patient with head trauma was on life supplements.

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