Conflicts & War

Hundreds forcibly disappeared in Myanmar, HRW says, as protesters press on

Bangkok Desk, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- Myanmar’s military has forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the Feb. 1 coup, Human Rights Watch said on Friday, as protesters continued to demonstrate despite the ongoing risks of violent repression of security forces.

More than 2,700 people have been detained in the country since the coup, out of which the whereabouts of only a small fraction are known, HRW said in a statement, citing the Myanmar-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which documents and verifies incidents and developments.

“The military junta’s widespread use of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances appears designed to strike fear in the hearts of anti-coup protesters,” HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.

He also demanded “concerned governments” to “demand the release of everyone disappeared and impose targeted economic sanctions against junta leaders.”

The statement came hours after the United Nations Security Council overnight reiterated its condemnation of the death of civilians since the coup, but once again did not denounce the military junta, nor address any possible further steps.

“Members of the Security Council expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating situation and strongly condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including women and children,” the organization said in a statement.

The UNSC also demanded the immediate release of ousted State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

Reports say the wording of the negotiated text, drafted by the UK, was blocked and softened several times by Myanmar’s biggest ally, China, as well as Russia, who both have veto powers and supply arms and military equipment to the Southeast Asian country.

In another statement overnight, the UN’s human rights office and refugee agency called on Myanmar’s neighbors to give those fleeing the crisis sanctuary and protection without risk of being sent back.

On Friday, and despite the continued risks of violent repression, protests went ahead in various Myanmar cities and regions including Mandalay, where the local Irrawaddy news outlet also reported the funeral of 18-year-old Ko Zaw Ko Latt, who was shot dead Thursday, as well as demonstrations in Meiktila, Mogok, Bago, Shan state, Kayin state, Kachin state and Sagaing region.

In Sagaing’s Mawlaik town, young people dressed as ghosts and stood in a cemetery holding placards with the words: “Even ghosts don’t want to live under this dictatorship” and “Hell is waiting for you, soldiers,” according to Myanmar Now.

A “flower strike” was also being held across the country, particularly in Yangon where people placed flowers in public spaces such as bus stops in remembrance of those killed by the junta.

More than 540 people have been killed by security forces in the country since the coup, most of them dying of bullet injuries, even as criticism has intensified internationally.

The military has justified the coup alleging electoral fraud in the November elections, in which Suu Kyi’s party repeated its landslide victory of 2015, even though international observers considered the process fair. EFE-EPA


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