Monday, March 01, 2021

Thai pro-democracy groups slam Myanmar military takeover, demand Suu Kyi’s safety

Feb 01. 2021
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By The Nation

The “We Volunteer” network (WeVo) launched a Facebook campaign on Monday calling on supporters to join their rally outside the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok’s Bang Rak district at 3.30pm.

The Washington Post reported that Myanmar's military took control of the country on Monday and declared a state of emergency for the entire year, hours after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of her ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) in a predawn operation.

"We, as Asean citizens, cannot accept a government that resulted from a coup d’etat and condemn them,” the WeVo network said.

The pro-democracy Free Youth group also posted a Facebook message calling on Myanmar’s military to cancel the coup d’etat.

The group said that despite living in a fertile region, people have been left to starve and gagged from demanding a better future.

"The Free Youth demands that the coup that will put Myanmar under a dictatorship again must end immediately,” the group said as it launched a clarion call for democracy in Southeast Asia.

Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, said the arrest of Suu Kyi, senior NLD officials and other political figures was very alarming. Unless those detained can be charged with a recognisable criminal offence under international law, they must be immediately released.

“The Myanmar military must clarify on what legal basis they have been detained. They must also guarantee that the rights of those arrested are fully respected, including against ill-treatment, and that they have access to lawyers of their own choice and to their family. They must confirm their whereabouts and grant them access to medical care," she said.

“This is an ominous moment for people in Myanmar and threatens a severe worsening of military repression and impunity. The concurrent arrest of prominent political activists and human rights defenders sends a chilling message that military authorities will not tolerate any dissent amid today’s unfolding events."

She said previous military coups and crackdowns in Myanmar have seen large-scale violence and extrajudicial killings by security forces.

"We urge the armed forces to exercise restraint, abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and for law enforcement duties to be fully resumed by the police force at the earliest opportunity," she said.

She added that reports of a telecommunications blackout pose a further threat to the population at such a volatile time – especially as Myanmar battles a pandemic, and an internal conflict against armed groups puts civilians at risk in several parts of the country.

"It is vital that full phone and internet services be resumed immediately,” she added.

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