Myanmar’s military has charged Aung San Suu Kyi with corruption alleging that she accepted gold bars and USD 600,000. Suu Kyi was State Counsellor when she and President Win Myint were ousted from power in a coup by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) on February 1, 2021.
The coup took place just a day before the Parliament was to swear in the members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that won the November 2020 elections. The Tatmadaw declared a year-long emergency during which period all power is to be vested in Min Aung Hlaing, who is the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services.
Ever since the coup took place, protests have taken place not only in the capital city of Naypyidaw, but also in Yangon, Mandalay, Dawei, Pathein and Chin. The protests have remained peaceful, taking the hue of a civil disobedience movement, where people are demanding the release of elected leaders. The military has not only issued prohibitory orders, but also resorted to internet shutdowns in a bid to prevent mobilization of protesters.
Then on February 21, Myanmar’s military issued a chilling warning to protesters who continued to throng the streets across the country holding demonstrations against the coup. A message broadcast on the State-run MRTV on Sunday evening said, “Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life.”
March 3, 2021, has been the bloodiest day of protests so far, with United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener confirming that at least 38 people were killed in the country on that day. The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly raised concerns about the excesses committed against peaceful pro-democracy protesters.
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Thomas Andrews told the UNHRC today, “The junta is detaining dozens, sometimes hundreds, every day. As of last night, the total number of arbitrary arrests and detentions since 1 February had risen beyond 2,000, and the violence against protesters, including violence against people sitting peacefully in their homes, is steadily increasing.” He added, “In addition to the murders and detentions, there is extensive video evidence of security forces viciously beating protesters, medics, and bystanders. There is video of soldiers and police systematically moving through neighborhoods, destroying property, looting shops, arbitrarily arresting protesters and passersby, and firing indiscriminately into people’s homes. There is shocking video of the aftermath of attacks, including fatal gunshot wounds to the heads of protesters, and video of soldiers dragging or carrying away the dead bodies of their victims.” The entire statement may be read here.
*Feature image by Claud Truong Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons.