Military re-seizes power in Burma

burma coup

Burma’s military announced Feb. 1 that it has taken control of the country and imposed a state of emergency. The country’s¬†civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained in an early morning raid along with President U Win Myint and other figures associated with the ruling¬†National League for Democracy (NLD). Although the internet was cut off by the military,¬†Suu Kyi managed to get out a statement to social media calling on Burma’s people to “protest against the coup.”¬†The military, officially known as the¬†Tatmadaw, said the state of emergency will last for a year, during which time armed forces chief Gen.¬†Min Aung Hlaing will rule and oversee new elections. The¬†Tatmadaw is justifying the move by asserting that¬†there was voter fraud in the November parliamentary¬†elections, in which the military-linked Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) suffered a crushing defeat to the NLD. No official election observers had made any claims of fraud. (The Irrawady, The Irrawady, The Irrawady,¬†BBC News, BBC News,¬†Burma Campaign)

Although hidden from international headlines, multiple ethnic conflicts¬†continue in Burma’s remote northern and eastern mountains.¬†Tatmadaw aggression against the¬†Karen people has¬†been again escalating in recent weeks, despite¬†an uneasy 2012 ceasefire with the Karen National Union (KNU) rebels that was supposed to end years of warfare. The¬†European Karen Network¬†reports that military attacks on villages in¬†Kyauk Gyi township, Karen state, left thousands displaced last month. A statement issued Jan. 27 said that “4,000 people are now hiding in the jungle without food and shelter as a direct result of mortar shelling and increased militarization by the Burma Army.”¬†(Karen News)

US and international sanctions against Burma were eased when the country’s democratic transition began in 2011,¬†after decades of dictatorship. Chevron, Total and Shell are among major oil companies that have resumed operations in Burma, and are warily viewing talk of renewed sanctions. (Argus Media)

Oil exploitation with international investment in Burma has been linked to atrocities against tribal peoples in the northern and eastern mountains, as well as the genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority in western Rakhine state.

Photo: The Irrawaddy

  1. Burma: teachers join growing protests against military

    A civil disobedience movement in Burma is gaining momentum, with teachers and students protesting against the military coup.¬†Demonstrators at Dagon University in the biggest city, Yangon, chanted support for detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and wore red ribbons, her party’s color.¬†¬†(BBC News)

    Authorities have filed formal charges against Suu Kyi for violating import and export laws. She is being charged for possession of 10 hand-held radios found by the military at her residence in Naypyidaw. 

    Suu Kyi was ousted from the office of State Counsellor on Feb. 1, following the coup. Authorities said she will remain in custody pending further investigation. Her NLD party said she is being held in house arrest. (Jurist, CNA)

  2. Burma junta blocks social media

    Burma’s Ministry of Transport & Communication (MoTC) on Feb. 10¬†directed telecom companies¬†to temporarily block access to Facebook in the country in order to ensure “stability”¬†and prevent misunderstanding amongst the citizens from the “spreading [of] fake news and misinformation.” Along with Facebook, access to associated products such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are also being restricted. On Feb. 5, network monitoring group¬†NetBlocks confirmed¬†that Twitter was also being blocked. (Jurist)

  3. Burma junta orders mass prisoner release

    The military junta in Burma ordered the mass release of over 23,000 prisoners in a move that concerned government opponents and international rights advocates who fear that the leaders of the Feb. 1 military coup could be clearing room in the country’s detention centers for large numbers of detainees. Over 23,000 have been detained in protests since the coup. (Jurist,¬†Frontier Myanmar)

  4. Burma junta suspends basic rights

    In a declaration Feb.¬†13, Burma’s military government announced that under emergency powers claimed in the wake of the coup, it is¬†revoking key sections of the country‚Äôs citizen privacy law. Among the revoked sections of the¬†Law Protecting the Privacy & Security of Citizens¬†are provisions protecting citizens from home entry and arrest without warrant, and limiting detentions without charge to under 24 hours.

    In recent days the military government has arrested more protesters and dissidents, a significant number under cover of darkness. People have taken to the streets in their neighborhoods to protect potential arrestees from police action. (Jurist)

  5. UN Human Rights Council condemns Burma coup

    The United Nations Human Rights Council Feb. 12 adopted a resolution deploring the removal of the democratically elected government of Burma by a military coup, and calling for its restoration. (Jurist)

    US President Joe Biden issued an executive order Feb. 11 that places sanctions on Burma military officials and their business interests for directing and carrying out the coup. The State and Treasury departments are to identify the relevant officers. (Jurist)

  6. Burma troops fire on protesters

    Burmese security forces opened fire to disperse protesters at a power plant in Myitkyina, Kachin state, while armored vehicles have been deployed in Myitkyina, Yangon and Sittwe. The internet has again been cut off across much of the country. (Radio Australia)

  7. Burma: mass protests grow in defiance of junta

    Hundreds of thousands of Burmese took to the country’s streets on Feb. 17, protesting the military coup that deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and challenging the trivial charges military authorities have laid against her, the most recent of which (violating COVID-19 restrictions) were¬†disclosed¬†the day before. Many were also determined to undercut recent military claims that the military takeover was supported by “40 million”¬†people in the country of some 54 million. Turnout seemed not at all dampened by the 8-hour Internet blackout that the military imposed on the country that morning (1-9 AM) for the third day in a row. (Jurist)

  8. Burma: first protester dies after being shot

    An anti-coup demonstrator who was shot last week has died, according to the hospital where she was on life support. Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who turned 20 while in a coma, was shot in the head at a rally in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Feb. 9. She was unconscious and in critical condition since then. She is the first protester to die at the hands of authorities since the military deposed the civilian government on Feb. 1, and is being celebrated as a martyr for the cause of democracy in Burma. (NHK World, Reuters)

  9. Two more dead in Burma repression

    Police and soldiers opened fire on protesters in the port area of Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city, on Feb. 20. At least two people were killed and over 40 injured, according to late reports. The dead included a 14-year old boy who was shot in the head. Protestors had gathered in support of transportation workers who had walked out as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement created to oppose the military coup.¬†(Jurist)

  10. ‘22222 Revolution’ in Burma

    Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Burma, in the biggest public demonstration of resistance to military rule since 1988. In what was dubbed the “22222 Revolution,” or “Five Twos Revolution,” in reference to its date‚ÄĒ22/2/2021‚ÄĒthe country went on a general strike in response to the killing of protesters by the military in Mandalay two days earlier. The mobilization proceeded despite a statement from the junta broadcast on national television, that protesters are heading down “a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life.”¬†(Jurist,¬†The Telegraph,¬†CNN)

  11. Death toll in Burma repression reaches six

    Six anti-regime protesters have now lost thier since the Feb. 1 coup after two activists in Mandalay died from their injuries. They sustained their injuries on Feb. 20, when government workers taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement at a dock in Mandalay was attacked by police and military troops with live rounds, rubber bullets and tear-gas. (The Irrawaddy)

    Security forces again fired into the air to disperse protesters in Yangon and Mandalay on Feb. 26. The new military-appointed Union Election Commission has officially annulled the 2020 election result. And Aung San Suu Kyi has apparently been removed from her home, where she was being held under house arrest, and taken to an undisclosed location. (Reuters, Republic World)

  12. Bloody Sunday in Burma

    At least 20 are reported dead after Burmese security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in Yangon. The march, mostly of students and professionals, was organized by the Milk Tea Alliance, a network linking activists in Burma, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hundreds have also been detained in both Yangon and Mandalay. (Jurist, Al Jazeera, AP)

  13. Bloodiest day yet in Burma repression

    At least 38 were killed in Burma March 3 as security forces fired on protesters in several cities across the country, including Yangon and Mandalay. (BBC News,¬†AP) Among those slain was 19-year-old¬†Kyal Sin, known as “Angel,” who is fast becoming an icon the protest movement on social media. The¬†t-shirt she was wearing when she was shot in¬†Mandalay read “Everything will be OK.” (Reuters)

  14. Burma: ‘security sweep’ for protesters in Yangon

    Burmese security forces surrounded and cut off hundreds of student protesters in Sanchaung district of Yangon on March 8. The protest was broken up by police in the afternoon with multiple arrests, but fleeing protesters were taken in and hidden by sympathetic local residents. Security forces responded by sealing off the district and began violent door-to-door searches, firing weapons, vandalizing property and threatening citizens as they went. 

    The response provoked solidarity demonstrations across the country and prompted Western embassies and the UN Mission in Burma to issue urgent and rare calls for de-escalation of the situation and appeals for restraint. (Jurist)

  15. Nationwide ‘killing spree’ seen in Burma

    Burma’s¬†military is unleashing lethal tactics and using battlefield weapons to carry out a “killing spree”¬†against peaceful protesters across the country, Amnesty International charges¬†after analysing video and photographic evidence from the past weeks of mass demonstrations.

    The cache of 55 video clips offer visual proof of the “systematic and premeditated killings,” Amnesty said in a¬†report¬†issued March 11, calling¬†on the UN Security Council and international community to take action to halt the violence.¬†It is estimated that more than 60 people have been killed since the Feb. 1 coup d’etat.

    The Security Council on March 10 adopted a unanimous statement condemning the use of violence against peaceful protesters, expressing “deep concern” over the coup, and calling for the release of¬†Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.¬†

    The US has also announced sanctions on 10 coup leaders, including the acting president, and three military-linked companies.

    Suu Kyi¬†is now said to be under investigation by authorities for corruption involving an illegal payment of¬†$600,000 in cash and 11 kilograms of gold. The charge is denied by MPs from the dissolved parliament with¬†Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.¬†Suu Kyi is still being held for the past five weeks at an undisclosed location. (Al Jazeera,¬†Daily Sabah,¬†CNN,¬†BBC News)

  16. Burma: military junta continues bloody crackdown

    In one of the deadliest days since the military took power, Burmese security forces killed as many as 12 at various locations across the country March 11. The largest number of deaths was in Myaing, a small city near Mandalay, where some eight protesters were killed. Most of the killings took place in smaller cities and neighborhoods, as protesters avoided gathering en masse in the downtown areas of the largest cities. (Jurist, Reuters)

  17. Burma: opposition calls for ‘revolution’

    Burmese security forces killed at least 12 people March 13, including five shot dead when police opened fire on a sit-in protest in Mandalay. 

    Mahn Win Khaing Than, who has been named the acting vice president of a “parallel government” by the country’s ousted lawmakers, issued an online video statement from an undisclosed location. “This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close,”¬†he said. “In order to form a federal democracy, which all ethnic brothers who have been suffering various kinds of oppressions from the dictatorship for decades really desired, this revolution is the chance for us to put our efforts together.”

    He added: “We will never give up to an unjust military, but we will carve our future together with our united power. Our mission must be accomplished.”¬†(AP,¬†Reuters)