Conflicts & War

Dissidents’ death leaps symbolize terror under Myanmar junta

Bangkok, Aug 12 (EFE).- The leap into the void of five young people who had escaped security forces or the arrest of relatives of opponents, including a baby, show the repression under Myanmar’s military junta, as diplomatic attempts to solve the country’s situation continue to fail.

Although local media first reported that the five had died Tuesday after jumping from the roof of a four-story building in Yangon, the state’s Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Thursday that three survived despite the severity of their injuries.

The deceased, a man and a woman, escaped from a raid that resulted in the arrest of three other people on charges of possessing explosives and firearms, within a campaign launched by the military in recent days, according to the Irrawaddy newspaper.

The incident in Yangon, the country’s largest city, flooded social networks with images and vindictive memes, and has become a metaphor for the repression of the regime and the fear security forces instill in some dissidents, ready to risk their lives to not fall into their hands.

Six months since the military junta took power with a coup, security forces have killed at least 965 people, according to data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, while 7,151 politically motivated arrests have been made.

Two of those arrests have shaken the consciences of thousands of citizens in recent days: that of 21-year-old Poe Ei Khine and her baby, for her alleged links to her husband with groups opposing the junta.

The husband, Aung Kyaw Htet, who remains in hiding, told the Myanmar Now digital newspaper how the baby was “released” after two days and is in the care of his grandmother until the mother, held under the pretext that she is sick with Covid -19, can be released.

The pandemic, which left more than 3,700 infections and 250 deaths a day on average last week, has worsened following a shortage of medical oxygen and hospital beds, further aggravating the drama the country is experiencing.

The entrenched situation since the military, led by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, seized power on Feb. 1, led the United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, to warn of the risk of total civil war if diplomatic efforts are not fruitful.

“I am concerned that if this dialogue, which we hope ASEAN can start, is not successful, it will go further and further in the direction of a civil war,” he said Tuesday in a virtual conference from Switzerland, referring to the mediation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with the Myanmar junta.

The association, made up of 10 regional countries, including Myanmar, appointed Brunei’s Deputy Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof a week ago as a special envoy for the Myanmar crisis, one of the consensus points agreed in April between the bloc and Myanmar’s military leader.

The appointment was criticized by the Justice for Myanmar organization due to the alleged links Brunei’s state oil company has with companies controlled by the Myanmar military.

However, the group said Thursday that Brunei Energy has suspended its business in Myanmar and has stopped the exploitation of oil and gas fields in the country.

Schraner Burgener also warned of the high levels of violence by the military and the forces opposed to the junta, which in recent months have increasingly opted for the violent route due to the ineffectiveness of their peaceful protests.

According to the diplomat, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing “seems determined to consolidate his control of power” with his latest movements, such as his appointment as prime minister of an interim government on Aug. 1 and the two-year extension he gave himself to stabilize the country before calling new elections.

While ASEAN tries to consolidate mediation efforts, Western powers such as the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom or Canada have tried to pressure the junta through economic sanctions that so far do not seem to bear fruit.

Isolated by the West, the military have found in Russia and China their only important footholds on the international scene, especially Beijing, which on Wednesday announced the investment of $ 6 million to finance 21 development projects in Myanmar. EFE


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