Aung San Suu Kyi, ex-Burmese leader, faces Monday 1is march to justice. She is accused by the junta of having violated obscure trade and health rules. This trial begins the day after the deadliest day of repression since the coup. Sunday, according to the United Nations, having “credible information”, at least 18 people were killed by the security forces who opened fire to disperse pro-democracy rallies in several cities of the country. Agence France-Presse was able to confirm at this stage from an independent source at least eight deaths, but some reports highlight an even heavier toll than that announced by the UN.
Despite fear of reprisals, residents of Dawei, in southern Burma, took to the streets on Monday morning to lay red flowers and light candles in front of portraits of the victims. Three protesters died in the coastal town after being targeted by “live ammunition”, according to a rescuer. In Yangon, the economic capital, a protestor who tried to take shelter behind trash cans and other makeshift shields was targeted by a shot, according to images filmed by Agence France-Presse.
International voices are rising to support Aung San Suu Kyi
“The Burmese army is a terrorist organization”, reacted on Facebook Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a leading activist. Asked by Agence France-Presse, the army did not respond to requests for comment on this information. But state media warned on Sunday that “tough action will inevitably be taken” against “lawless crowds.” There are now around thirty dead in the ranks of demonstrators since the putsch of 1is February, according to an NGO helping political prisoners (AAPP). The army says for its part that a police officer perished while trying to disperse a rally.
The police and military use of lethal weapons against largely peaceful protests has sparked a new wave of international protests. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned on Twitter “the abominable violence of the Burmese security forces”. “The use of lethal forces […] and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable ”, reacted, for his part, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
The Burmese ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, had himself severely broken a few days earlier with the putschist generals by calling for “an end to the military coup” and “to return the power to the State to the people ”. He was removed from his post by the junta.
The numerous international protests and the announcement of sanctions by the United States and the European Union have so far failed to influence the military. “The world must step up its response. Words of condemnation are welcome, but are insufficient, ”lamented the UN special rapporteur, Tom Andrews, adding that he was going to publish on Monday a list of options to be proposed to the Security Council.
Aung San Suu Kyi “in good health”, present at his trial by videoconference
Many voices continue to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Under house arrest in the capital Naypyidaw since her arrest, the 75-year-old former leader is being prosecuted for illegally importing walkie-talkies and violating restrictions linked to the coronavirus. The hearing scheduled for Monday should last all day and focus mainly on the trial schedule, his lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told Agence France-Presse, who said his client was in “good health” and that she would be present “by videoconference”.
The waves of arrests continue. More than 1,130 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup, including 270 for Sunday alone in Yangon, according to the AAPP. The latter were transported to the city’s infamous Insein prison, where many pro-democracy activists served long prison terms under previous dictatorships.
Several journalists have been arrested in recent days, including a photographer from the Associated Press agency. The country has been rocked by a wave of demonstrations and a campaign of civil disobedience since the putsch that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1991. The last popular uprisings of 1988 and 2007 were bloodily suppressed by the army already in power for nearly 50 years since the country’s independence in 1948.