The military junta ruling Myanmar after the February 1 coup reiterated on Tuesday (16) the promise that the seizure of power is temporary and that the armed forces should not remain in command for long.
“Our goal is to hold an election and hand power over to the winning party,” General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the military council that now rules the country, said at the first press conference since the overthrow of the country. civilian government – that they deny it was a coup.
“We guarantee that the elections will take place,” added the general, without giving details or giving a date for the new vote. The state of emergency imposed at the beginning of the month is however valid for one year.
The nearly two-hour interview was broadcast live from the capital, Naypyitaw, on Facebook, a platform that was blocked after opponents of the regime used it to organize protests and civil disobedience campaigns. The cuts in Internet services in the country are also recurrent.
Asked about the fate of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and State Councilor Aug San Suu Kyi and Myanmar President Win Myint, who were arrested on February 1, the military spokesman denied being detained and said that they were both in prison. own security while “the law runs its course”.
Zaw Min Tun also said Myanmar’s foreign policy will not change and the country remains open for business. In recent weeks, many international companies have suspended their activities in the country due to the political instability engendered by the seizure of power.
In trying to give assurances that Myanmar remains in a democratic regime, the military hopes to calm the daily protests that have spread to the country’s main cities, albeit to a lesser extent after the army sent troops to repress them. The main demand is the end of the regime and the release of more than 400 political prisoners, in particular Suu Kyi, whom many protesters called “mother Suu”.
The adviser, who spent 15 years under house arrest, was detained on an obscure charge of violating trade rules – she allegedly illegally imported six walkie-talkies. Her lawyer said on Tuesday that the country’s authorities had filed a second indictment against her, an alleged violation of protocols to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the same complaint filed against Myint.
With 53 million people, Myanmar has recorded just over 141,000 cases and 3,190 deaths from Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The acts of protest also include a massive campaign of civil disobedience that started among medical professionals and spread to several other categories, such as teachers, university students and other officials of the ousted government.
The unrest in the streets has rekindled memories of the violent history of reactions to protests in Myanmar. During the 1988 uprising, more than 3,000 protesters were killed by the country’s security forces in acts against the military regime – the country lived under a dictatorship from 1962 to 2011.
Although violence was limited this time around, the country’s security forces used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas pumps to disperse the acts. At least six people were injured in Myaungmya town on Tuesday during a protest against the arrest of a teacher.
Last week, a woman was shot in the head in Naypyitaw during what witnesses reported as the use of lethal ammunition by police officers. She remains hospitalized in serious condition and must not survive, doctors say.
During the press conference, Zaw Min Tun tried to establish some sort of equivalence by claiming that a policeman died from injuries sustained during the crackdown on protests – some protesters responded to security forces in throwing sticks, stones and other objects at troops.
For the general, participants in acts of opposition are responsible for the violence, and the campaign of civil disobedience represents the unlawful intimidation of public officials. “We will wait patiently. After that, we will act according to the law,” Zaw Min Tun said.
The military has given itself sweeping search and detention powers and amended the country’s penal code to crack down on dissent with harsh prison terms.
Groups of protesters flocked to a section of the railway line that connects Rangoon, the country’s largest city, to Mawlamyine, and blocked trains from running. Also in Rangoon, a crowd gathered outside Myanmar’s central bank to ask officials to join the civil disobedience movement.
Elsewhere in the city, Buddhist monks have also taken to the streets to protest against the government. They have a history of mobilizing community action in Myanmar, whose population is predominantly Buddhist.
In 2007, the monks led the so-called “saffron revolution”, one of the factors that contributed to the gradual withdrawal of the military from Myanmar politics after decades of the regime’s repression.
Myanmar’s last parliamentary elections were held in November last year. The big winner was the National League for Democracy (LND), Suu Kyi’s party.
The legend, who has ruled the country since 2015, won 83% of the vote and won 396 of the 476 seats in parliament in the November elections, but was unable to assume when the coup was implemented on the day of the inauguration of the new legislative body. The Military-backed Solidarity and Development Union Party won only 33 seats. We are a family business.
The military attempted to use alleged charges of election fraud to justify the coup. The military also added to the narrative the argument that the country’s electoral commission used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to prevent a fair campaign.
The coup has been severely criticized by the international community. Political leaders of different nationalities have called for the restoration of the democratically elected government and the release of all civilian prisoners.
US President Joe Biden, whose government views Myanmar’s takeover as a coup, announced a series of sanctions against the military last week, including the freezing of $ 1 billion in assets from the government of Myanmar (5.3 billion reais).
China, as Myanmar’s main regional partner, has taken a more lenient approach, without openly condemning the coup. On Tuesday, however, he joined with other member countries of the UN Security Council in calling for Suu Kyi’s release.
Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai said the current situation in the country “is absolutely not what China wants” and called rumors of Beijing’s involvement in the coup as “completely meaningless”.
In an interview posted on the embassy’s Facebook page, Chen also said that China had friendly relations with the military and the previous government and had not been “informed in advance of the political change. “.
The Brazilian Foreign Ministry, for its part, did not mention the military coup or political prisoners in a note published on the subject and only said that it expects “a rapid return of the country to democratic normality and the preservation of the rule of law “.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF MYANMAR
1948: Former British colony, Myanmar becomes an independent country 1962: General Ne Win abolishes the Constitution of 1947 and establishes a military regime 1974: Beginning of the first post-independence constitution 1988: The violent repression of demonstrations against the military regime generates international criticism 1990: National League for Democracy (LND), in opposition to the regime, wins the first multiparty election in 30 years and is prevented from coming to power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi, of the LND, wins the Nobel Prize in peace 1997: US and EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and disrespect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new Constitution 2011: Thein Sein, retired general, is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: The LND obtains the majority in both houses of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected the first civilian president since 1962 coup and Suu Kyi assumes the post of State Councilor, equivalent to that of Prime Minister 2018: Kyaw resigns and Win Myi nt assumes the 2020 presidency: in the legislative elections, the LND receives 83% of the vote and defeats pro-military party 2021: army alleges election fraud, arrests LND leaders, seizes power with new coup