Supporters of the army, some armed with knives and batons, attacked groups of protesters protesting Thursday (25) against the coup in Myanmar, suddenly increasing the tension of the acts that lasted three weeks.
The country has been in political, economic and diplomatic crisis since the armed forces seized power on February 1 and deposed the entire civilian government, alleging fraud in the last legislative elections.
Thousands of people take to the streets every day in all parts of the country, but on Thursday one of the protests in Rangoon, Myanmar’s largest city, was dispersed before it had even started.
Around 1,000 army supporters have raided groups of students, with increasing reports of beatings and even stabbing. On social media, there are photos and videos of protesters threatened and fleeing men with knives.
Carrying banners that read “We support our defense forces,” pro-military groups had access to isolated areas for days to prevent access to pro-democracy protesters and were targeted by accusations that they were paid by the armed forces. forces to act on your behalf.
“They [os partidários do Exército] have the right to protest, but they should not have used weapons, “a protester injured in the ribs by one of the army supporters told AFP.” They are bullies.
At Rangoon University, police blocked campus doors to prevent hundreds of students from coming out to protest.
“Today’s events show who the terrorists are. They fear the people’s action for democracy,” activist Thin Zar Shun Lei Yi told Reuters news agency. “We will continue our peaceful protests against the dictatorship.”
Min Aund Hlaing, head of the armed forces now in command of the country, said the security forces “exercise maximum restraint with minimum use of force.”
The death toll, however, rose to five, including a 20-year-old girl who was shot in the head and died after ten days in hospital and a teenager was also shot in the head during a protest. in Mandalay. The number of detainees has reached 728, according to the Myanmar Political Prisoner Assistance Association.
For these and other acts of violence, Facebook announced on Thursday the ban on all accounts linked to the Burmese military junta that were still open – last Sunday (21) the platform had already closed the main page of the armed forces.
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated the need for this ban,” the company said in a statement. “We believe the risks of allowing Tatmadaw [como é conhecido o Exército de Mianmar] on Facebook and Instagram are too big. “
The platform also said it had taken the decision to ban due to “exceptionally serious human rights violations and the obvious risk of military-initiated violence in Myanmar’s future,” as well as the the army’s record of non-compliance with Facebook rules.
All pages and profiles directly related to the military, as well as media controlled by the military and ministries under direct military leadership, will be blocked. Companies that supported the coup or have connections with the board will also not be able to advertise on the network. Government agencies responsible for essential services will not be banned.
In recent years, Facebook has engaged with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and has opposed the military after facing international criticism for its mission to contain campaigns and hate speech on the platform.
The chief of the armed forces and 19 other officers and organizations had already been banned by the social network in 2018. Hundreds of other pages and accounts managed by the army have also been deleted for “inauthentic coordinated behavior” – a technical term used by Facebook team to refer to the use of several fake accounts to distribute content or increase interactions on the network.
Shortly before the legislative elections in November, the platform, which ended up being blocked in the country after the coup, also pulled from the air a network of 70 accounts and pages of speeches exploited by the military who published contents favorable to the army and contrary to State Councilor, Aung San Suu Kyi, and his party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The LND, which has ruled the country since 2015, won 83% of the vote and won 396 of 476 seats in parliament in Myanmar’s latest elections, held in November last year. The legend, however, was prevented from taking over when the coup was implemented on the day the new legislature was inaugurated. The military-backed Solidarity and Development Union party won only 33 seats. We are a family business.
The military attempted to use alleged fraud charges in the election to justify its takeover. 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. They also claim to have acted in accordance with the Constitution and that the majority of the population supports their conduct, accusing the demonstrators of incitement to violence.
“We will implement a true multiparty democracy,” said the new regime, adding that power will be transferred after “the holding of free and fair general elections”.
The promise, though repeated, is viewed with skepticism by opponents of Myanmar and international observers. In the diplomatic field, he is at the center of an effort coordinated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a group formed by Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met in Thailand with his appointed military counterpart in Myanmar, Wunna Maung Lwin, to discuss ways to alleviate the crises in the country.
However, opponents of the Myanmar regime fear that the Indonesian intervention could give legitimacy to the military junta and its attempt to overturn the November elections and hold new ones.
Retno did not mention the elections in a press conference after the meeting, but stressed that ASEAN seeks an “inclusive democratic transition process”.
Indonesia has suggested to other members of the bloc to send observers to Myanmar to ensure generals keep their promise of “fair and free elections,” according to Reuters poll, which in practice would mean accepting the cancellation of the November election results. .
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha also met with Myanmar’s representative and on Thursday denied that Wednesday’s meeting in Bangkok represented any endorsement by the military.
“The political question is their country’s business. I want to encourage them to move the country towards democracy as soon as possible, ”said Prayuth, a retired Thai army general who came to power in a coup in 2014, and said: became civilian prime minister in a contested election five years later, which he said was free and fair.
In the West, criticism and sanctions against the Burmese army continue. The UK has added six more names to the list, which already includes 19 members of the UK government sanctioned armed forces.
“The package of measures [desta quinta] sends a clear message to Myanmar’s military regime that those responsible for human rights violations will be held accountable and the authorities must hand control back to a government elected by the people, ”said British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
The World Bank also announced the suspension of aid to Myanmar, which in 2020 amounted to 900 million US dollars (4.89 billion reais). “The Bank can also request the reimbursement of funds that it considers not to be necessary for the realization of projects,” warned Mariam Sherman, director of operations of the entity in Southeast Asia.
Countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, India and New Zealand have also called on the need for a speedy restoration of democracy and, in some cases, announced sanctions against the generals who took control of the country.
US President Joe Biden, whose government views Myanmar’s seizure of power as a coup, announced a series of sanctions against the military earlier this month, including the $ 1 billion freeze on Myanmar government assets (5.3 billion reais).
However, there are few historical references of Myanmar military personnel giving in to outside pressure, except for influences from Russia and China. Beijing, as Myanmar’s main regional partner, had taken a more lenient approach, without openly condemning the coup. More recently, however, he joined with other member countries of the UN Security Council in calling for the release of Suu Kyi.
The Brazilian Foreign Ministry, for its part, did not mention a military coup or political prisoners in a note published on the subject and confined itself to saying 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 1947 Constitution 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), opposed to the regime, wins the first multiparty election in 30 years and is prevented from taking power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi of the LND wins the Nobel Peace Prize 1997: US and EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and lack of respect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new 2011 Constitution: Thein Sein, retired general , is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: The LND obtains a majority in both houses of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected first civilian president since the coup 1962 and Suu Kyi takes over as State Councilor, a position 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 and seizes power with new coup