Guterres lambasts violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar

Dr Myint Cho

Dr Myint Cho

The Myanmar Police Force said that 571 protesters had been detained in 11 provinces on Sunday, after the UN Human Rights Office said more than 1,000 people had been "arbitrarily arrested" since the coup.

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) on Monday declared the junta a terrorist group and called the violence against protesters a "declaration of war on unarmed civilians".

At least five people are believed to have been killed Sunday in Yangon when police shot at protesters, who have remained nonviolent despite provocation from the security forces and pro-military counter-demonstrators.

The military government has charged Suu Kyi with several criminal offences that critics say are politically motivated and are meant to keep her locked up.

A United Nations human rights official said it had "credible information" at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded.

Min Min Soe told Reuters that Suu Kyi's next hearing would be March 15.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Tuesday in the Hledan area of Yangon, where a day earlier police had fired repeated rounds of tear gas canisters.

"It has been one month since the coup".

"I hope that they will come to the negotiating table, so we can talk together", said Sasa.

Myanmar's military seized power and declared a yearlong state of emergency on February 1, detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other members of the ruling National League for Democracy.

Suu Kyi was already charged with illegally importing and using six unregistered walkie-talkie radios found during a search of her home, and for breaking the country's natural disaster law by holding public gatherings in violation of COVID-19 protocols.

On Monday, two more charges were added, one under a section of a colonial-era penal code prohibiting publication of information that may "cause fear or alarm", and the other under a telecommunications law stipulating licences for equipment, the lawyer said.

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The coup brought a halt to Myanmar's tentative steps towards democracy after almost 50 years of military rule. Both urged a united response.

Tom Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said it was clear the junta's assault would continue so the global community needed to ratchet up its response.

"We condemn the Burmese security forces' abhorrent violence against the people of Burma & will continue to promote accountability for those responsible", Blinken tweeted, using the country's old name.

"Words of condemnation are welcome but insufficient".

Top U.S. foreign affairs officials said they support the calls from the protesters for Myanmar's military and police to stand down. "The nightmare in Myanmar that is unfolding before our eyes will get worse". Almost two dozen were killed on Sunday in demonstrations nationwide.

With daily protests and strikes paralysing a country where the Army had promised to bring order, soldiers and police intensified their crackdown at the weekend.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a reliable monitoring group, estimated that about 30 people have been killed by security forces since the coup. Witnesses said Sunday's march was also large and people were determined not to be driven off the streets.

Unable to reverse course, unwilling to compromise, and prevented by the populace from proceeding smoothly with business as usual, the junta seems increasingly likely to use force to secure its hold on power - whatever the outside world might think.

Police and the spokesman for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

The movement quickly started to gain momentum and it was not long before hundreds of thousands of people began taking part in street protests.

State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people had been arrested across the country.

The crackdown would appear to indicate determination by the military to impose its authority in the face of defiance, not just on the streets but more broadly in the civil service, municipal administration, the judiciary, the education and health sectors and the media.

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