Conflicts & War

Myanmar soldiers surround homes of striking railway workers

Yangon, Myanmar, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- Soldiers in Yangon on Wednesday surrounded a residential compound for railway workers striking against the military junta who seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.

Since 6.30 am local time (00.00 GMT), around 50 heavily armed soldiers have blocked entrances to the compound near Ma Hlwa Gone Railway Station in the country’s most populated city, reportedly to coerce them into returning to work.

Some residents were seen fleeing the compound with bags of belongings.

Soldiers also confiscated food and products donated to support the striking workers, residents told Efe.

Employees of railways, as well as from many other sectors, are an active part of the civil disobedience movement that has paralyzed parts of the administration.

Security forces were also seen setting fire to makeshift barricades erected by residents of the city.

Anti-junta protesters have continued to demand a return to democracy, respect for the results of the November elections and the release of all those detained by the military, including deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Meanwhile, a second member of Suu Kyi’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has died while in custody and was allegedly shot, according to his wife in statements to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday.

Zaw Myat Lin, 46, is the second NLD official to be arrested at night, but dead by the next day, after Khin Maung Latt, 58, died after he was detained Sunday.

In further suppression of media covering the protests, security forces raided the office of Kamayut Media in Yangon on Tuesday afternoon and then arrested its co-founder Han Thar Nyein and editor-in-chief Nathan Maung, the local Myanmar Now news outlet reported.

The same day, soldiers also broke into the office of Mizzima, one of five media outlets whose publishing license was revoked on Monday.

Mizzima reaffirmed its commitment to continue publishing and broadcasting as independent media “to fight against the military coup and for the restoration of democracy and human rights” in the country.

Soldiers and police had also raided Myanmar Now’s office in Yangon on Monday night, seizing computers, printers and parts of the newsroom’s data server.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said on Tuesday that “these media outlets produce breaking news revealing the brutal truth of this junta, this oppression is aimed to conceal human rights violations and to weaken communication channels between free media and the public.”

Dozens of journalists have been arrested since the coup, at least six of whom have been charged with violating a public order law, an offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

At least 60 people have died due to “violent and arbitrary crackdowns” on anti-coup protesters, according to AAPP.

Myanmar’s military has justified taking power on grounds of alleged electoral fraud in November’s elections, in which international observers did not detect any wrongdoing and which resulted in a landslide victory for the NLD. EFE-EPA


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