Westerners call on the Burmese army, which deploys armored vehicles, to restrain

Deployment of armored vehicles, warning shot, arrest of journalists … on the ninth day of mobilization against the military coup of 1is February, the junta tightens the repression even more. Sunday February 14, the military are deploying in Yangon and telecommunications could be disrupted overnight, according to the American embassy in Burma. Earlier, tanks were briefly seen in the streets of the largest Burmese city, under curfew for 20 hours.

Several Western embassies in Burma have urged the military to restrain. “We call on the security forces not to resort to violence against demonstrators and civilians protesting against the overthrow of their legitimate government”, wrote on Twitter the diplomatic representations of the United States, Canada and several countries of the European Union.

Fear of violent repression

In northern Burma, security forces dispersed a rally on Sunday by shooting at demonstrators, according to a local journalist. “They first threw tear gas, then fired”, she said, without being able to specify whether the shots were fired with live ammunition or with rubber ammunition. Five journalists were arrested on this occasion, according to local media.

Soldiers were also deployed in front of several power plants in Kachin State, in the north of the country, in the face of demonstrators, some of whom said they feared the army would cut off electricity. In Yangon, several electricity utilities announced on Facebook that they would refuse to cut the power and expressed their support for the demonstrators. On Saturday, the junta called on all officials to return to work on pain of retaliatory measures.

Read also “They arrest people at night”: in Burma, the mobilization does not weaken

The fear of reprisals is on everyone’s minds in this country, where the last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the military. On Sunday, in Rangoon, the demonstrators 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 the police, who had arrived to look for striking railway employees and force them to return to work.

In the south of the country, in Dawei, seven police officers have announced that they are defecting, while local media have reported similar cases in recent days.

New wanted notices

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. Among the list of the seven “fugitives » figure Min Ko Naing, a leader of the student movement from 1988, who has already spent more than ten years in prison. Since the putsch, around 400 people have been arrested, including politicians, activists and members of civil society, including journalists, doctors and students.

General Min Aung Hlaing on Saturday gave emergency powers to the police, which can carry out searches without a warrant or detain people for a short period without the authorization of a judge. In reaction to the arrests, citizen vigilance committees have spontaneously sprung up across Burma: residents are tasked with monitoring their neighborhood in the event of operations carried out by the authorities to arrest opponents.

Read also: General Min Aung Hlaing, head of military regime, warns Burmese protesters

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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