At least 90 Myanmar lawmakers detained by junta, report says

Bangkok, Dec 2 (EFE).- At least 90 lawmakers of Myanmar’s ousted government have been imprisoned or put under house arrest by the military junta, while dozens have fled the country, according to a report over the growing persecution of Southeast Asian lawmakers released on Thursday.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said in a statement that lawmakers had faced growing threats in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 coup, but also in other countries of the region.

Ousted Myanmar lawmaker Myat Thida Htun, who joined the report’s release virtually, recounted how she was hiding in a forest to escape persecution by the junta.

“The army’s drones are always flying over the area. I have to move often to avoid being arrested,” she said.

Myat had been in Naypyidaw to assume office when the military – led by general Min Aung Hlaing – seized power, triggering a grave political crisis and a wave of violence.

She said that the arrested lawmakers had to face torture and poor conditions in the prisons, where at least 50 people have died after being arrested due to the coup according to the United Nations. These include a lawmaker who died of Covid-19.

The lawmaker alleged that medical treatment was being denied to the detainees.

According to the report, titled “Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021,” the arrested lawmakers include 14 women, who are more vulnerable to sexual abuse by the security forces.

The APHR also criticized a campaign of disinformation and abuse by the Philippines against independent lawmakers over false accusations of supporting the communist insurgency and the continued detention of senator Leila de Lima, who has been in prison for years over drug trafficking charges.

The report also flags harassment of Thai lawmakers by security forces for criticizing the government, while Malaysian MPs have faced police interrogations and charges for criticizing excesses during the Covid-19 emergency, which led to the parliament being suspended for six months.

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