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In Burma, civilians freed by junta, hearing of Aung San Suu Kyi postponed

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More than 600 people arrested since the February 1 coup were released Wednesday by the junta, which still holds hundreds of civilians in secret, including former leader Aung San Suu Kyi whose court hearing was held. once again postponed.

“Today we released 360 men and 268 women from Insein prison” in Yangon, a senior prison official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Among them, many students took to the streets to protest against the force of the army.

Politicians, strikers, activists, artists: the generals still detain many civilians: more than 2,800 have been arrested since the putsch that overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court

But the hearing, which was to be held by videoconference, could not take place for lack of internet connection, mobile data and several wifi networks having been cut for several days to isolate the country. “It has been postponed to April 1,” Khin Maung Zaw, the lawyer for the former head of government, who has still not been authorized to meet with his client, told AFP.

In an attempt to extinguish the wind of democratic rebellion that has been blowing over the country since February 1, the military is stepping up their response every day. More and more civilians who do not participate in the protest, including women and children, are being targeted.

On Tuesday, Khin Myo Chit, a seven-year-old girl was killed “by a fatal shot in the stomach while she was in her house” in Mandalay (center), according to the AAPP. His death has not been confirmed at this stage from an independent source to AFP.

The NGO Save the Children said it was “horrified that children continue to be among the targets”, listing around 20 minors shot dead in the past seven weeks. A total of 275 civilians perished, according to the AAPP. The toll could be much heavier: hundreds of those arrested are missing.

Very sharp violence

Tuesday, the spokesman of the junta, Zaw Min Tun, for his part reported 164 victims in the ranks of the protesters, described as “violent terrorists”. He said he was determined to “crack down on lawlessness”, ignoring new sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

Violence remains very sharp in Mandalay (center) where 21 civilians have died since Sunday. On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, barricades erected by demonstrators were set on fire, houses were looted, gunfire echoed in several areas of the city, according to local media.

The army is tightening its judicial grip on Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest. Two men confessed in videos released in recent days by state media, claiming to have paid him over a million dollars and eleven kilos of gold in bribes.

Observers wonder about the authenticity of these testimonies: one of the witnesses is imprisoned, the other has a troubled past. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is also charged with four other counts, including incitement to public unrest. If she is found guilty of the charges against her, she could be sentenced to long years in prison and be banned from political life.

Read also: The reasons for the divorce between the Burmese army and Aung San Suu Kyi

The junta justified its putsch alleging “enormous” fraud during the legislative elections in November, won overwhelmingly by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (LND). Tuesday, the spokesman for the junta assured that many false ballots had circulated during this election. He has broadcast videos of voters claiming to have been paid by representatives of the NLD.

The junta also targets the media. Thein Zaw, an Associated Press photographer accused of “sowing fear and spreading false news”, is summoned this Wednesday before a court in Yangon.

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