Pages

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

So much for world leaders' threats: Myanmar's generals take firm control after coup, with soldiers patrolling the streets despite international outcry – while China dismisses 'cabinet reshuffle'

 Myanmar's generals consolidated their control of the country today after staging a surgical coup that saw defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi placed under house arrest and all powers transferred to the army.

Armoured personnel carriers and soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of capital Naypyidaw, where Ms Suu Kyi is being held under house arrest along with president Win Myint. 

Military leaders assumed full control despite threats from world leaders - led by President Joe Biden - who threatened to impose sanctions and take 'appropriate action'.


While most countries and international organisations spoke out to condemn the coup, China pointedly dismissed it - with state media calling it a 'cabinet reshuffle'.

Myanmar's military was in full control today as armoured vehicles patrolled the streets of the capital Naypyidaw (pictured), where roadblocks were also being enforced

Myanmar's military was in full control today as armoured vehicles patrolled the streets of the capital Naypyidaw (pictured), where roadblocks were also being enforced

A soldier stands guard at a gate near the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, where it is thought president Win Myint is being held under house arrest

A soldier stands guard at a gate near the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, where it is thought president Win Myint is being held under house arrest

It also emerged that politicians not rounded up at their houses on Monday are being held at a parliamentary dormitory in Naypyidaw, which has been placed under armed guard (pictured)

It also emerged that politicians not rounded up at their houses on Monday are being held at a parliamentary dormitory in Naypyidaw, which has been placed under armed guard (pictured)

Soldiers keep watch along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw as the military consolidates control

Soldiers keep watch along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw as the military consolidates control

A car is seen leaving the Yangon home of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is believed to be inside and being held under house arrest

A car is seen leaving the Yangon home of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is believed to be inside and being held under house arrest

Ms Suu Kyi (right) was forced from power on Monday in a coup, with all of her powers transferred to the country's commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left)

Ms Suu Kyi (right) was forced from power on Monday in a coup, with all of her powers transferred to the country's commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left)


In a sign of how complete the coup was, it emerged today that politicians not rounded up at their homes on Monday are being held inside a parliamentary dormitory in Naypyidaw, which has been placed under guard.  

One MP for Suu Kyi's NLD party described the compound as 'an open-air detention centre'.

'We are not allowed to go outside,' she told AFP by telephone, requesting anonymity for fear of the military. 'We are very worried.'

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint remained under house arrest, the lawmaker told AFP, although it was not immediately clear where they were being held.

'We were told not to worry. However we are worrying. It would be a relief if we could see photos of them at home,' she said.

Despite the intimidation, a statement was posted on the NLD's verified Facebook page calling for the release of Suu Kyi and all detained party members.

'We see this as a stain on the history of the State and the Tatmadaw,' it added, referring to the military by its Burmese name.

It also demanded the military 'recognise the confirmed result of the 2020 general election'.

The military justified its seizure of power by alleging widespread fraud in elections held three months ago that the NLD won in a landslide.

The military announced on Monday that it would hold power under a state of emergency for 12 months, claiming it would then hold fresh elections.

Biden led the chorus of global outrage, calling for a quick restoration of democracy and warning that Washington could reimpose sanctions.

'The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized,' Biden said.

The President pointedly chose to refer to Myanmar by its former name - Burma - which the US has never officially recognised because it was changed by the military in 1989 in an undemocratic process.

In recent years, US diplomats have referred to the country as Myanmar as a 'courtesy' due to democratic reforms - signalling the time for courtesy is over.

'The United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour,' Biden added.


Soldiers keep watch along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw on Tuesday

Soldiers keep watch along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw on Tuesday

Soldiers stand guard along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw

Soldiers stand guard along a blockaded road near Myanmar's Parliament in Naypyidaw

Soldiers keep watch at a checkpoint at the royal palace in Mandalay as Myanmar's generals appeared in firm control

Soldiers keep watch at a checkpoint at the royal palace in Mandalay as Myanmar's generals appeared in firm control

Police vehicles are parked on Sule Pagoda Road in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, on Tuesday

Police vehicles are parked on Sule Pagoda Road in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, on Tuesday

Vehicles filled with riot police officers are parked along a street in Yangon, the country's largest city, on Tuesday

Vehicles filled with riot police officers are parked along a street in Yangon, the country's largest city, on Tuesday

Myanmar's military checkpoint is seen on the way to the congress compound in Naypyitaw, Myanmar

Myanmar's military checkpoint is seen on the way to the congress compound in Naypyitaw, Myanmar

Myanmar's soldiers stand guard at a roadblock manned with an armored vehicle on a road leading to parliament

Myanmar's soldiers stand guard at a roadblock manned with an armored vehicle on a road leading to parliament

'I didn't get out of my truck': Scared truck driver on Myanmar coup
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time2:05
Fullscreen
Need Text

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union and Australia were among others to condemn the coup. Britain summoned Myanmar's envoy in formal protest.

But China declined to criticise anyone, instead calling for all sides to 'resolve differences'. 

China's official Xinhua news agency' described the coup as a 'cabinet reshuffle'.

The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on the situation for Tuesday.

Myanmar's November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.

The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote in November - increasing its support from the 2015 elections.

But the military claimed to have uncovered more than 10 million instances of voter fraud.

Although the military had flagged last week it was considering a coup, Monday's events seemed to stun the country and power was seized extremely quickly.

The military severely disrupted the internet as the coup was unfolding, but then eased restrictions later in the day.

On Tuesday there were few signs of extra security in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city and commercial capital, indicating the generals' comfort levels that, for now, they faced no mass protests.

'We want to go out to show our dissatisfaction,' a taxi driver told AFP early Tuesday morning.

'But Mother Suu is in their hands. We cannot do much but stay quiet at this moment.'


Myanmar soldiers stand inside Yangon City Hall after they occupied the building

Myanmar soldiers stand inside Yangon City Hall after they occupied the building

Soldiers patrol the grounds of Yangon's city hall building after the military seized control in a coup on Monday

Soldiers patrol the grounds of Yangon's city hall building after the military seized control in a coup on Monday

Myanmar soldiers stand guard on a road in the capital of Naypyitaw while checking vehicles that pass through

Myanmar soldiers stand guard on a road in the capital of Naypyitaw while checking vehicles that pass through

Members of the military stand guard outside a dormitory building that is used to house members of the country's parliament, but which has been turned into an open-air prison

Members of the military stand guard outside a dormitory building that is used to house members of the country's parliament, but which has been turned into an open-air prison

Soldiers keep watch at a checkpoint at the royal palace in Mandalay on Tuesday, following a coup 24 hours earlier

Soldiers keep watch at a checkpoint at the royal palace in Mandalay on Tuesday, following a coup 24 hours earlier

People line up outside a bank branch in Yangon after the military severely restricted access to money as part of the coup

People line up outside a bank branch in Yangon after the military severely restricted access to money as part of the coup

Military chief and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing is now in charge of the country, although former general Myint Swe is acting president.

Min Aung Hlaing is an international pariah, having been banned on Facebook and under US sanctions for a military campaign against Myanmar's Muslim Rohinyga community that the United States has described as ethnic cleansing.

Suu Kyi, 75, is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military - which earned her the Nobel Peace Prize - having spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous dictatorship.

But her international image was shredded during her time in power as she defended the military-backed crackdown in 2017 against the Rohingya.

About 750,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh during the campaign, which UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

Derek Mitchell, the first US ambassador to Myanmar after military rule, said the international community still needed to respect Suu Kyi's overwhelming victory in November.

The West 'may have considered her this global icon of democracy and that luster is off. But if you care about democracy in the world, then you must respect the democratic choice and she is clearly that'.

'It's not about the person; it's about the process,' he said.

No comments:

Post a comment