Tanks have been sighted in Rangoon, the economic capital. Deployments of soldiers have been noted in other cities, according to images posted on social networks. We have received “indications of troop movements,” confirmed on Twitter the US Embassy in Burma, asking the Americans to stay safe.
“An interruption of telecommunications is possible tonight from 1:00 am to 9:00 am”, local time (from 7:30 pm to 3:30 am in Switzerland), she added. In Myitkyina, in the north, there were several injuries when the security forces dispersed protesters by firing, according to a local journalist.
“They first fired tear gas, then fired,” she told AFP, without being able to say whether live bullets or rubber ammunition had been used. Five journalists were arrested on this occasion, according to local media.
Reacting to this escalation of repression, the ambassadors to Burma of the United States, Canada and several countries of the European Union issued a joint statement on Twitter, urging the military “not to resort to violence against the backdrop of ‘against demonstrators and civilians’.
The February 1 coup overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and ended a fragile 10-year democratic transition. The fear of reprisals is on everyone’s minds in Burma, where the last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the military. Despite this, the mobilization against the coup d’etat did not weaken with civil servants (teachers, doctors, railway employees, etc.) on strike.
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On Sunday, for the ninth consecutive day, the Burmese took to the streets by tens of thousands. In Rangoon, they notably gathered near the famous Shwedagon pagoda, to demand the end of the dictatorship and the release of the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, held in secret since her arrest.
Near the central station, residents blocked a street with tree trunks to prevent police from entering the neighborhood. They then escorted police officers who were looking for striking railroad workers to force them back to work. In Dawei (south), seven police officers announced they had defected, while local media reported similar cases in recent days.
Hunt for “fugitives”
The army, for its part, has released a list of seven of Burma’s most renowned activists, whom it is actively seeking for encouraging the protests. On the list of the seven “fugitives” is the name of Min Ko Naing, a leader of the student movement from 1988, who has already spent more than 10 years in prison.
Since the putsch, some 400 people have been arrested, including politicians, activists and members of civil society, including journalists, doctors and students.