LMartial law was declared Monday, February 8 in several cities of Burma, the generals for the first time for the threat of reprisals against the demonstrators, who took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands against the coup. The commander-in-chief of the army, Min Aung Hlaing, spoke for the first time in the evening, again invoking “electoral fraud” during the legislative elections in November to justify his putsch.
“We are investigating the authorities responsible” for these irregularities, added Min Aung Hlaing on the army channel Myawaddy TV. He pledged to “hold free and fair elections” at the end of the one-year state of emergency and promised a military regime “different” from previous ones. Burma has lived under the yoke of the military for almost 50 years since its independence in 1948, and the February 1 putsch ended a brief decade-long democratic parenthesis.
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Curfew and ban on gatherings
Martial law has been decreed in several neighborhoods in Yangon, the economic capital, in Mandalay (center), the country’s second largest city, as well as in other parts of the territory. Demonstrations and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited and a curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The army has also brandished the threat of reprisals against pro-democracy demonstrators, who are increasingly numerous in the streets. “Actions must be taken … against offenses that disturb, prevent and destroy the stability of the state,” state television reported. Police used water cannons in the capital Naypyidaw against demonstrators.
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Washington could not contact Aung San Suu Kyi
The UK, the European Union and 19 other members of the UN Human Rights Council have called for an emergency meeting. On Monday evening, the United States claimed to have tried to speak to the main Burmese civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but their requests were rejected.
“We are on the side of the Burmese people and we support their right to assemble peacefully, and in particular to demonstrate peacefully in favor of the democratically elected government,” added US diplomacy spokesman Ned Price. “We are of course very worried about the recent announcements of the army limiting public gatherings”, he added to journalists.