Conflicts & War

Myanmar military rolls back freedom laws to curb pro-democracy protests

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Myanmar’s military junta has rolled back security and freedom laws to curb growing protests against the coup it staged on Feb.1.

The authorities suspended articles 5, 7, and 8 of the Protection of the Citizens for the Personal Freedom and Personal Security Law, the military’s True News unit reported late Saturday.

The law requires, among other legal guarantees, a warrant to carry out arrests and hold someone for more than 24 hours.

But police and military no longer need warrants to carry out searches, in addition to having carte blanche to intercept citizens’ communications and demand their data from telecom operators.

The military will also be able to demand that citizens report guests staying overnight in their homes to locate dissidents and supporters of the protests.

Social media has been flooded with messages from the Myanmar people denouncing night arrests and even the presence of criminals allegedly sent by the military to terrorize and sabotage neighborhoods.

A Burmese said on Twitter that citizens have built barriers around streets and residential areas to protect themselves from criminals released from prison by the military.

On Friday, the military granted amnesty to 23,000 prisoners on the occasion of Union Day. The measure is usually reserved for designated days.

At least 384 people have been arrested since the coup.

Of these, 24 have been released, according to the latest report by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Among those arrested is the country’s deposed leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

There has been no news of Suu Kyi since she was placed under house arrest in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, on the day of the coup.

The protest movement has also extended to social media despite the military junta’s order to block Facebook and Twitter.

Many users are circumventing the restrictions using virtual private networks or VPNs, which allow access to the Internet through servers outside the country.

The use of social media is what clearly distinguishes the ongoing demonstrations from protests against the military in 1988 and 2007, which were violently suppressed.

The military government, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, says the coup was justified alleging voter fraud in the elections held in November that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party swept, as it did in 2015.

Despite the holding of elections and the start of a process in 2011 towards a “disciplined democracy” as described by the military, which ruled the country with an iron fist between 1962 and 2011, the military leadership still had a stronghold over the country’s politics and economy. EFE-EPA


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