• Saturday, May 08, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:34 am

Myanmar faces growing isolation as military tightens grip

  • Published at 11:52 am March 18th, 2021
Myanmar Anti Coup Protest
Protesters with placards with the image of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi sit along a street during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 12, 2021 AFP

Information within the country is becoming increasingly difficult to verify, with 37 journalists arrested and restricted internet services in the country

Myanmar faced growing isolation on Thursday with increasingly limited internet services and its last private newspaper ceasing publication as the military built its case against ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Nobel Peace Laureate Suu Kyi was overthrown and detained in a February 1 military coup that triggered mass protests across the country that the security forces have struggled to suppress with increasingly violent tactics.

The total documented number of people killed in the unrest stood at 217 but the actual toll was probably much higher, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group said.

Western countries have condemned the coup and called for an end to the violence and for the release of Suu Kyi and others. Asian neighbours have offered to help find a solution to the crisis.

Large parts of an economy already reeling from the novel coronavirus have been paralyzed by the protests and a parallel civil disobedience campaign of strikes against military rule, while many foreign investors are reassessing plans.

The UN food agency warned this week that rising prices of food and fuel across the country could undermine the ability of poor families to feed themselves.

“Whatever happens in Myanmar over the coming months, the economy will collapse, leaving tens of millions in dire straits and needing urgent protection,” historian and author Thant Myint-U said on Twitter.

Authorities have restricted the internet services that protesters have been using to organize, with access to WiFi in public areas largely shut off by Thursday.

Residents of some towns, including Dawei in the south, reported no internet at all.

The private Tachilek News Agency in the northeast published photographs of workers cutting cables it said were the fibre links with neighbouring Thailand.

Reuters could not verify the report. A junta spokesman did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

Information within the country is becoming increasingly difficult to verify.

Some 37 journalists have been arrested, including 19 who remained in detention, the UN human rights office in Geneva said on Tuesday.

While authorities have ordered some newspapers to shut, others have apparently been forced to close for logistical reasons. The last private newspaper stopped publishing on Wednesday.

State-run media has not been affected.

Payments

State television reported on Wednesday evening that Suu Kyi was being investigated for bribery in connection with accepting four payments worth US $550,000 from a prominent businessman.

Property developer Maung Weik, in comments broadcast in a state television news bulletin, said he had given Suu Kyi four payments, ranging from US $50,000 to $250,000 in 2019 and 2020, when she headed the first civilian-led government in decades.

“According to the testimony of U Maung Weik ... Aung San Suu Kyi is guilty of bribery and the anti-corruption commission is investigating to take action under anti-corruption laws,” state television said.

A spokesman for the junta said last week authorities were investigating Suu Kyi for receiving illegal payments.

Her lawyer dismissed that accusation as a joke. He was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

Suu Kyi, 75, the hugely popular daughter of the leader of Myanmar’s drive for independence from colonial power Britain, has campaigned against military rule since 1988 and spent years in detention for doing so.

The army defended its coup, saying its accusations of fraud in a November 8 election swept by Suu Kyi’s party were rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised a new election but not set a date.

Suu Kyi already faces various charges including illegally importing walkie-talkie radios and infringing coronavirus protocols. If convicted, she could be barred from politics.

52
Facebook 52
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail