The Burmese generals imposed, Tuesday, an almost total cut of the Internet for a second consecutive night and continue their waves of arrests. Internet connections were almost completely cut off across the country on Tuesday around 1 a.m. (7:30 p.m. in Switzerland), for the fourth time since the putsch. They were restored eight hours later.
These disruptions undermine “fundamental democratic principles,” UN envoy for Burma Christine Schraner Burgener said in a telephone interview with Soe Win, deputy commander of the Burmese army. The cuts are also harming “key sectors, including banks,” she added in this rare exchange between the junta and the outside world.
Aung San Suu Kyi interviewed this week
Deployments of armored vehicles, night arrests, hardening of the legislative arsenal: the army has continued to toughen its tone since its putsch of February 1, which put an end to a fragile 10-year democratic transition in the country. Some 420 people – politicians, doctors, activists, students, strikers – have been arrested in the past two weeks, according to an NGO helping political prisoners.
The former de facto head of the civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the President of the Republic, Win Myint, arrested in the early hours of the coup, are still kept in secrecy. They are expected to be questioned this week by a court “by videoconference,” lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said, adding that he was unable to get in touch with his clients. This hearing will not be fair, commented to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur. “There is nothing fair about the junta. It’s theater. It’s just theater. And of course, no one believes them. ”
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate was indicted for breaking an obscure trade rule by “illegally” importing walkie-talkies. She is under house arrest in the administrative capital Naypyidaw and is said to be in good health, her party, the National League for Democracy (LND), said last weekend.
Incidents reported on Monday
Despite the repression, pro-democracy mobilization continues. Several hundred demonstrators marched Tuesday in Rangoon, the economic capital. “Give us back our leaders!” “Give us back hope!” Read on the banners.
The protesters also urged the inhabitants to join the civil disobedience movement. Lawyers, teachers, air traffic controllers, railway workers: many officials have responded to this call across the country by going on strike since the putsch.
After the deployment of troops in some cities of the country, supported by armored vehicles, however, crowds were less numerous in the streets. “It’s done to threaten people,” lamented Nyein Moe, who was demonstrating in front of the Central Bank in Yangon on Monday. But, “we can’t stop now”.
The protests are so far generally peaceful, but several incidents were reported on Monday. Police arrested several dozen protesters, including around 20 students, in Naypyidaw, before releasing some. In Mandalay (center), the second largest city in the country, a clash between demonstrators and the police left at least six injured. Police fired rubber bullets and slingshots at the crowd, with protesters responding by throwing bricks. Journalists at the scene also said police beat them.