Myanmar protesters trapped in late-night standoff as military tries to silence independent media

Navy junta forces had cornered a whole lot of individuals in Sanchaung township, within the nation’s largest metropolis, and threatened to go door to door to hunt them down, Reuters reported. Police fired weapons and used stun grenades as protesters sought shelter in close by buildings.

Native media reported 27 folks have been arrested in Sanchaung Monday night time. CNN couldn’t independently affirm if any protesters have been arrested.

The transfer sparked appeals from the US, UK and United Nations for police and navy to permit about 200 barricaded protesters to depart the realm. Hundreds of individuals turned out in close by streets and districts in solidarity and defiance of a nighttime curfew.

Within the early hours of Tuesday morning, activists stated the trapped protesters have been in a position to go away the Sanchuang district after safety forces left and a curfew lifted. Navy vehicles and safety forces have been seen leaving round 2 a.m. and protesters started exiting after 4 a.m. Volunteers have been on standby to present the fleeing protesters free rides residence.

Myanmar has been thrown into turmoil because the navy seized energy in a February 1 coup, detaining civilian chief Aung San Suu Kyi and forming a brand new junta to run the nation. For greater than a month, protesters throughout Myanmar have turned out each day of their 1000’s to withstand navy rule.

However safety forces have responded with rising violence and brutality. Witnesses have reported extrajudicial killings and nighttime raids, whereas footage and images present police and the navy capturing useless anti-coup protesters and beating detainees. At the least 54 folks have died in crackdowns on protests, together with many youngsters and younger folks, based on the UN.

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In Sanchaung on Monday, protesters had turned out to have a good time Worldwide Girls’s Day and “fly” their Htamains (sarongs) as a part of the anti-junta motion.

Activist Maung Saungkha stated there have been cat and mouse exchanges all through the day between police and protesters, who had run into buildings to cover as safety forces tried to disperse them. Round 6 p.m., 200 younger protesters realized police had barricaded them right into a small space and refused to allow them to — or anybody else — go away, he stated.

“Three streets had been blocked by police and soldiers. Even though the owners of the building were ordinary people who live in Sanchaung, even these people were not allowed to go out,” he stated.

Individuals have been scared and heard safety forces shout they might come constructing to constructing to arrest them, he stated.

The constructing Maung Saungkha was hiding in had an emergency escape exit so he was in a position to go away the realm. However lots of his associates remained trapped till the early hours.

“I felt guilty all night,” stated Maung Saungkha, from protest group Basic Strike Committee of Nationalities, which represents ethnic minorities. “I feel like I’m not only responsible for myself but also my colleagues.”

He believes safety forces solely backed off due to strain from the UN and worldwide embassies, which referred to as for restraint and the discharge of protesters.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric instructed reporters Monday that UN Secretary-Basic Antonio Guterres, “calls for maximum restraint and urges for the safe release of all without violence or arrests.”

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The British Embassy in Myanmar tweeted it was conscious of the “ongoing situation in Sanchaung” and urged “the security forces to allow all civilians to leave immediately without threat of violence or arrest.”

Media licenses revoked

The standoff got here because the navy junta revoked the licenses of 5 unbiased media shops that had been fearlessly reporting on the coup and subsequent protests.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Info introduced on state-run tv Monday night that Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Khit Thit, Myanmar Now and 7Day Information had been “stripped of their publication license and (were) not allowed to use any media for news purposes.”

DVB’s operations director in Yangon, Toe Zaw Latt, stated the order meant they have been now not formally acknowledged as media organizations nor allowed to broadcast or publish on any platform.

“That’s not going to stop us,” Toe Zaw Latt stated.

Mizzima additionally continued to broadcast pictures of the protests on its YouTube channel Tuesday. On Monday, the group confirmed on its web site that the navy revoked its license.

Women hang a collection of longyi, a traditional clothing widely worn in Myanmar, across a road during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 8.

DVB was certainly one of a number of media organizations pressured to function exterior the nation for years below navy rule. Shaped in 1992 by democracy activists, the group ran its operations from Oslo, Norway, counting on a community of underground reporters in Myanmar and a bureau in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that offered a window into what was one of many world’s most-isolated nations.

When the navy started opening up Myanmar in 2011 below the quasi-civilian rule of Thein Sein and launched into a collection of reforms, together with abolishing pre-publication censorship, exiled media teams cautiously started returning to the nation.

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“From the beginning, our strategy was a ‘one foot in one foot out’ situation, as we never trusted military. And military never trusted independent media. We are an arranged marriage without love,” Toe Zaw Latt stated.

Paul Donowitz, Myanmar Marketing campaign Chief at rights group International Witness, stated the media crackdown confirmed the navy was “attempting to return the country to its darkest days.”

Myanmar's ethnic groups have long suffered from military brutality. The junta gave them a common foe

“These five news outlets are a key part of Myanmar’s independent media landscape and provide vital information to the people of Myanmar. Independent reporting is all the more important in the current context, helping to counter the military’s misinformation campaigns and provide the public and activists with objective accounts of what is really going on in the wake of the coup,” he stated.

When the navy took management of the nation final month, certainly one of coup chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s first acts was to drag the plug on unbiased TV channels. Since then, journalists have been among the many 1,857 folks detained by junta forces — amongst them two DVB reporters.

“There will clearly be more targeting of journalists on the ground and we expect more arrests. Our main concern is how can we manage our staff safety. At the same time, we need to report,” Toe Zaw Latt stated.

Going again into exile might be a risk, he stated, however for now DVB will hold reporting on each platform they’ll. “The coup cant stop our (reporting) … there is no way we are going to stop right now,” he stated.

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