Students call on Australia to let them stay as military guns down protesters in Myanmar


Naw Naw* becomes shaky when she talks about the deadly violence being unleashed in her home of Myanmar.

Activists estimate more than 700 people — some of them children as young as five years old — have been killed since the military seized power in a coup on February 1, deposing de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Sometimes they kill at night … every age, they kill,” Naw Naw told the ABC.

For now, Naw Naw is safe in Melbourne, studying a diploma of early childhood.

But her time in Australia could be about to run out — her visa is due to expire next month.

As a member of the Kachin ethnic community who has been outspoken about the atrocities back home, she fears what would happen if she were forced to return. 

“I would be arrested too if I must return now,” she said.

She fears if she was detained, she wouldn’t come out alive. 

“Everyone here is in fear of returning at the moment. I really fear for every student.”

Mary Aung, also an international student, echoed those fears at a public hearing on the situation in Myanmar held by the joint standing committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on Tuesday. 

“There’s a great danger for me if I go back if I go back to Myanmar — I could be arrested on my arrival,” she said.

There are more than 3,500 temporary visa holders from Myanmar in Australia, about half of them students.

Last month, The Australian reported the government was planning to grant visa extensions on humanitarian grounds to Myanmar citizens in Australia on temporary visas.

The report said the Home Affairs and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were working on a policy to be announced in “not weeks, but days” – but no announcement has yet been made.

The latest government figures show that in March, 45 Myanmar citizens applied to the Australian government for protection visas. Thirteen applied in February. 

Some in the Myanmar community have called on the Australian government to follow in the steps of Bob Hawke, who offered asylum to Chinese students in Australia after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

That’s something Naw Naw would like to see too.

“I really want to request the Australian government to take strong and quick action [on] this,” she said.

Members of the Myanmar community criticised Australia’s “slow and ineffective” response to the coup. 

Labor MP Julian Hill said they “deserve better”. 

“Here we are in mid-April, and the best you’ve got is something might happen and it’s not my problem,” he said. 

“It sounds somewhat constipated, shall I say, so I do hope some of these actions can be brought to bear soon so things are unblocked.”

Ridwaan Jadwat, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, disagreed with that assessment. 

“The government will look at this with a great deal of compassion and make a sensible decision,” he said. 

He said visa extensions are being considered, and when it comes to sanctions, “nothing is off the table”, he added. 

Hugh Jeffrey from Defence warned that sanctioning the military is not a “silver bullet”. 

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Myanmar citizens flee to India to escape violence


The 42-year-old, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, fled her home in Myanmar, in the border district of Tamu, earlier this month, along with her sisters and her daughter. They crossed into the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur. It was the only thing they could do to save themselves, Makhai said.

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Manipur: India state reverses order turning away Myanmar refugees



Officials say an earlier order issued amid reports of people fleeing the coup was “misconstrued”.

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Dozens Gunned Down in ‘Day of Shame’ for Myanmar


Ahead of an important holiday, Myanmar’s military warned people not to come out to protest on Saturday or they would be shot “in the back” or in the head.

But turn out they did, and they were met with brutal force, with at least dozens killed, and perhaps more than 100, in what was one of the worst days of violence in the country since the Feb. 1 military coup.

Many of Saturday’s victims were bystanders not taking part in the demonstrations. Among those shot and killed were a 5-year-old boy, two 13-year-old boys and a 14-year-old girl. A baby girl in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was struck in the eye with a rubber bullet, although her parents said she was expected to live.

Since the nationwide street demonstrations against the coup began, the military has killed more than 300 of its citizens and imprisoned thousands more.

“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for a group of elected officials who say they represent Myanmar’s government, said in a statement. The killings also drew worldwide condemnation, including from the United States, Britain and the European Union.

The deadly violence on Saturday took place on Armed Forces Day, a holiday honoring the Tatmadaw, as the military is known. At a military parade on Saturday in Naypyidaw, the capital, the general who led the overthrow of Myanmar’s civilian government last month said the army was determined “to protect people from all danger.”

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing promised to pave the way for democracy, despite having rejected the results of the country’s Nov. 8 election and arrested many of those who were elected to Parliament that day. He reiterated a pledge to hold new elections, but offered no timetable.

Among more than 3,000 people who have been detained by the military since the coup are the ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the president, U Win Myint. Their party, the National League for Democracy, won by a landslide in November.

In his speech to the assembled troops, which was broadcast on national television, General Min Aung Hlaing noted that the Tatmadaw was founded by Gen. Aung San, a national hero. He did not mention that the general was Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s father.

The Armed Forces Day ceremony, a highlight of the year for the Tatmadaw, is usually attended by a slew of foreign diplomats. This year there were fewer, representing China and several other neighboring countries.

Also present was Russia’s deputy defense minister, Alexander Fomin, who was singled out for praise by General Min Aung Hlaing. On Friday, the general gave Mr. Fomin a medal and a ceremonial sword.

Russia has been an important supplier of weapons to the Myanmar military, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council it can be counted on, along with China, to block any attempt by the international body to impose sanctions on Myanmar.

The United States said on Thursday that it was putting its own financial sanctions on two military-owned conglomerates that control a large segment of Myanmar’s economy.

On Saturday, the United States ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, said the security forces were “murdering unarmed civilians, including children,” and he called the bloodshed “horrifying.”

The United States Embassy said shots had been fired at its cultural center in Yangon, the American Center, on Saturday. The embassy said that no one was hurt and that it was investigating.

In an apparent blow to the military on its holiday, the ethnic rebel group known as the Karen National Union said that it had overrun and seized a Tatmadaw camp, killing 10 soldiers. The group posted on Facebook photos of weapons it said it had seized, including what appeared to be machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

On Saturday night, the Tatmadaw launched an airstrike against a village in a territory controlled by the Karen National Union near the border with Thailand, the rebel group said. A spokesperson for the Karen Peace Support Network, a civil society group working in the area, told Reuters there were reports that two people had been killed and two wounded, but communication was difficult in the remote region and more casualties were feared.

The Tatmadaw has fought for decades with various ethnic groups in Myanmar, including the Karen. Some opposition leaders hope that urban protesters, who are mainly from the majority Bamar ethnic group, can build a coalition with the ethnic groups to resist the Tatmadaw.

The widespread killings on Saturday came a day after military-run television threatened protesters with being “shot in the back and the back of the head” if they persisted in opposing military rule.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, which has tracked arrests and killings since the coup, about a quarter of those killed before Saturday were shot in the head.

The killings on Saturday took place in more than two dozen cities across the country. Many of the victims were bystanders.

In Meiktila, a city in central Myanmar, 14-year-old Ma Pan Ei Phyu was at home when the security forces began shooting randomly in the neighborhood, said her father, U Min Min Tun. The family did not hear a shot, and they didn’t realize that she had been killed until she fell to the floor. She had been hit in the chest.

In Yangon, 13-year-old Maung Wai Yan Tun was playing outside when the police and soldiers arrived. Scared, he ran away and was shot, his mother told the online news outlet Mizzima. The family went to recover his body, but finding it surrounded by security forces, they dared not approach.

“Today’s killing of unarmed civilians, including children, marks a new low,” Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday. “We will work with our international partners to end this senseless violence, hold those responsible to account, and secure a path back to democracy,”

One of the bloodiest incidents took place in Dala Township near Yangon. On Friday afternoon, the police arrested two protesters at their home.

Soon after, neighbors gathered outside the police station and demanded their release. The police responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowd, one witness said.

The residents retreated but returned to the police station after midnight. This time, after a lengthy standoff, the security forces opened fire with live ammunition. At least 10 people were killed and 40 injured.



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At least 50 protesters reportedly killed in Myanmar on ‘day of shame for the armed forces’


Myanmar’s security forces shot and killed at least 50 protesters on Saturday, news reports and witnesses said, a brutal crackdown on dissent that came as the leader of the ruling junta said the military will protect the people and strive for democracy.

Protesters against the 1 February military coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities and towns on Saturday, defying a warning they could be shot “in the head and back” as the country’s generals celebrated Armed Forces Day.

“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.

“The military generals are celebrating Armed Forces Day after they just killed more than 300 innocent civilians,” he said, giving an estimate of the toll since protests first erupted weeks ago.

At least four people were killed when security forces opened fire at a crowd protesting outside a police station in Yangon’s Dala suburb in the early hours of Saturday, Myanmar Now reported. At least 10 people were wounded, the news portal said.

Three people, including a young man who plays in a local under-21 football team, were shot and killed in a protest in the Insein district of the city, a neighbour told Reuters.

Thirteen people were killed in various incidents in Mandalay, Myanmar Now said. Deaths were also reported from the Sagaing region near Mandalay, Lashio town in the east, in the Bago region, near Yangon, and elsewhere, it said.

Myanmar Now said a total of at least 50 people were killed on Saturday. Reuters could not independently verify the numbers killed.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

After presiding over a military parade in the capital Naypyitaw to mark Armed Forces Day, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections, without giving any time-frame.

“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that authorities also sought to protect the people and restore peace across the country.

“Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”

Soldiers on horseback lead the convoy of Myanmar armed forces chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as he arrives for the Armed Forces Day parade.

AFP

The latest deaths will add to a toll of 328 people killed in the crackdown that has followed the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, according to a tally kept by an activist group.

In an ominous warning on Friday evening, state television said: “You should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back.”

The warning did not specifically say that security forces had been given shoot-to-kill orders. The junta has previously tried to suggest that some fatal shootings have come from within the crowds.

But it showed the military’s determination to prevent any disruptions around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of the resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945 that was orchestrated by Suu Kyi’s father, the founder of the military.

Aung San, considered the father of the nation, was assassinated in 1947.

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BBC journalist freed in Myanmar as anti-coup protesters call for foreign intervention


A BBC journalist held in Myanmar has been freed, the broadcaster said on Monday, as demonstrators took to the streets for fresh anti-coup protests against the military.

Myanmar’s junta has unleashed deadly violence on protesters who have risen against the military’s ousting of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi last month.

More than 2,600 people have been arrested and 250 killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local monitoring group that has warned fatalities could be even higher.

Aung Thura, a journalist with the BBC’s Burmese service, was detained by men in plain clothes while reporting outside a court in the capital Naypyidaw on Friday.

The broadcaster confirmed on Monday in a news story on its website that he had been freed but gave no further details.

Scores of people, including teachers, marched on Monday through the pre-dawn streets of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, some carrying placards calling for UN intervention in the crisis.

Mandalay has seen some of the worst violence of the crackdown and recorded eight more deaths on Sunday, a medical source told AFP, adding that as many as 50 people were injured.

Machine guns rang out late into the night across the city of 1.7 million.

“People were really scared and felt insecure the whole night,” a doctor told AFP by phone.

To protest the brutality of the crackdown, a group of doctors in Mandalay staged a “placard only” demonstration by lining up signs in the street, Voice of Myanmar reported.

A group of monks staged a similar “monkless” protest.

There were also early morning protests in parts of Yangon, the commercial capital and largest city, where drivers honked their horns in support of the anti-coup movement.

Residents in Yangon’s Hlaing township released hundreds of red helium balloons with posters calling for a UN intervention to stop atrocities, according to local media.

One man was also killed during daytime clashes with security forces in the central city of Monywa Sunday and hundreds turned out to protest a day later, local media reported.

Protests against the coup continue in cities and town across the country, including Mandalay and Yangon.

AP

EU sanctions

International concern has been growing over the junta’s brutal approach as the death toll climbs, with a senior UN expert warning the military is likely committing “crimes against humanity”.

But so far the generals have shown little sign of heeding calls for restraint as they struggle to quell the unrest.

In a fresh bid to step up pressure, the European Union is expected on Monday to hit 11 junta cadres with sanctions — in the form of travel bans and asset freezes.

The United States and Britain have already taken similar steps.

Myanmar’s regional neighbours have also weighed in, with Indonesia and Malaysia calling for an emergency summit of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss the crisis.

Following the call, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan embarked on a whistle-stop diplomatic tour including meetings in Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

On the commercial front, French energy giant EDF announced that a $US1.5 billion ($A1.9 billion) hydropower dam project in Myanmar had been suspended in response to the coup.

Australia and Canada have confirmed they are providing consular assistance to two business consultants detained in Myanmar.

It is understood that Matthew O’Kane and Christa Avery, a dual Canadian-Australian citizen, are under house arrest after trying to leave the country on a relief flight Friday.

The couple run a consultancy business in Yangon.

The Canadian and Australian foreign ministries have refused to comment further on the case.



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Australian couple detained in Myanmar after trying to leave the country

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it is providing consular assistance to two of its nationals in Myanmar who have been detained by officials in Myanmar.

“Due to our privacy obligations, we will not provide further detail,” a spokeswoman said.

It is understood business consultants Matthew O’Kane and Christa Avery, a dual Canadian-Australian citizen, are under house arrest after trying to leave the country on a relief flight Friday.

The couple run a bespoke consultancy business in Yangon.

A third Australian, economist Sean Turnell, an advisor to Suu Kyi, who was arrested a week after the coup also remains in custody.

It comes as the death toll rose, with one man killed on Sunday in the central city of Monywa.

At least two others were injured during a clash with security forces at barricades, two witnesses told AFP.

Anti-coup protests continued in Mandalay despite the intensifying violent crackdowns on demonstrators by security forces.

AAP

“I saw people carrying a man who was shot and killed,” a local resident told AFP, adding the body was taken to a local hospital.

“They used stun grenades and tear gas… later they started shooting. I don’t know if the man, who died on the spot after he was hit on his head, was killed from rubber bullets or live rounds.”

Security forces have responded with lethal force, using live rounds along with tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to bring the demonstrations to heel.

Mourners in the city laid to rest a 26-year-old who died Saturday while in custody after being shot and arrested the previous night.

Myo Myint Aung’s mother cried over the coffin at the funeral service, saying that her son was still a child in her eyes.

“I am really proud of what you did for democracy and this country,” she said, in a video of the funeral service posted on social media.

“You are a real hero.”

A funeral was also held for mother-of-three Mar La Win, 38, who died earlier this weekend in the central city of Pakokku along the Irrawaddy river.

“My family is broken now,” her husband Myint Swe told AFP as the red flag of Suu Kyi’s political party was draped on her coffin surrounded by flowers.

A hearse carrying the body of Saw Pyae Naing is driven in Mandalay, Myanmar.

A hearse carrying the body of Saw Pyae Naing is driven in Mandalay, Myanmar.

AAP

Elsewhere the heartbroken family of 15-year-old Aung Kaung Htet, who was shot in the forehead at a protest at Tamwe, Yangon, paid tribute to the teenager.

Mourners held up the three-finger salute – a symbol of defiance – at his funeral.

Overnight, protesters staged a candlelit protest in the northern town of Kale and left signs on the street calling for United Nations intervention to stop the violence in Myanmar.

Nearly 250 deaths have been confirmed in the weeks since the coup, the AAPP reported, although the true toll could be higher.

10 March: Security forces escalate violent crackdown on protesters in Myanmar

International condemnation by Washington, Brussels and the United Nations has so far failed to halt the bloodshed.

European Union foreign ministers are expected to approve sanctions against 11 junta officials at a meeting on Monday.

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‘They will feel our pain’: Activists call for sanctions on relatives of Myanmar military officials in Australia


Sophia Sarkis knows what it feels like to live under military rule.

The 43-year-old grew up in Myanmar but is now an Australian citizen watching the deadly coup unfold in her birthplace.

Ms Sarkis believes the Australian government should be doing more to respond to the escalating violence and wants sanctions placed on relatives of Myanmar’s military officials living in Australia.

“By doing that, if the Australian government put sanctions on their daughters and sons they will feel pain of how citizens of Myanmar people are feeling,” she told SBS News.

Ms Sarkis says at least seven children of military leaders live in Australia. Others in the community estimate it could be in the hundreds.

She said people in Myanmar are “suffering and living with a limited amount of freedom and democracy”, and that there is anger over the relatives of military officials living with freedom in Australia.

“Their daughters and sons benefitted from their family. Without their family support, they wouldn’t be living a luxurious life in Australia and splashing money – the Myanmar people’s money.”

According to the Department of Home Affairs, there were 36,900 people born in Myanmar living in Australia at the end of June 2018. More than 7,300 were on temporary visas.

‘They need to feel it personally’

Geoff Cohn from Democracy for Burma, a pro-democracy campaign group, told SBS News that the imposition of sanctions would send a powerful message.

“Where sanctions hit is when they are aimed at senior military figures and their families,” he said. “They need to feel it personally.

“They need to know that their bank accounts are under threat and they need their children to be saying ‘Dad, what have you done? My studies have been terminated, I was doing so well in Australia’.”

Greens Senator Janet Rice is also urging the federal government to investigate any links to Myanmar military officials.

She said possible options for sanctions would be visa bans, revoking work rights and freezing financial assets.

“We’re not saying that these sanctions should be automatically imposed like a blanket against all family members,” Senator Rice added. “There needs to be an assessment as to whether these family members are directly connected to the coup leaders and whether it’s appropriate to apply sanctions to them.”

A familiar diplomatic lever

The Australian government has imposed sanctions on the relatives of Myanmar military officials in the past.

In July 2008, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith cancelled the student visa of Zin Mon Aye, daughter of senior Burmese military officer Brigadier General Zin Yaw.

In making his determination, Mr Smith said she was “a person whose presence in Australia is, or would be, contrary to Australia’s foreign policy interests”.

In 2007, the Australian government introduced a financial sanctions list, targeting more than 400 senior members of the Burmese regime and their associates, including close family members.

Zin Mon Aye wasn’t on the list, but her parents were. A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade submission stated: “As the child of the next in line for the position of Chief of Airforce, she fits within the definition of those targeted by our sanctions.”

Australia has already imposed sanctions and travel bans on five Myanmar generals accused of leading a vicious crackdown on the country’s Rohingya minority in 2017.

But community groups argue the list doesn’t include current junta leaders.

Australia has suspended military cooperation with Myanmar and redirected aid to non-government organisations in response to the coup.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has expressed “grave concerns” over the escalating violence in Myanmar.

Asked about the prospect of sanctions at a doorstop earlier this month, she said the government is keeping its sanctions policy “under close review”.

“In relation to sanctions, we have of course previously sanctioned five senior members of the Tatmadaw,” she said. “We also have an embargo on any military sales to Myanmar, and we will keep our sanctions policy under close review.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the situation in Myanmar.

AAP

Complicating any further action on Myanmar by the federal government is the detention of Australian academic Sean Turnell, who was advising deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi on economic policy.

Canberra has called for his immediate release.

“We seek absolutely the cessation of any armed violence against unarmed, peaceful protesting civilians,” Ms Payne said. “And in everything we are doing, we are seeking Professor Turnell’s release.”

By contrast, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have already acted to tighten sanctions against Myanmar’s military leaders.

Last week, the US imposed sanctions on two adult children of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

The US Treasury Department said they “have directly benefitted from their father’s position and malign influence”.

The sanctions ban American citizens from doing business with them or the six businesses they control.

Calls for financial links to be investigated

Human Rights Watch Myanmar Researcher Manny Maung says financial links between Australia and Myanmar should also be investigated.

“We should be looking at making sure that Australian businesses don’t have any ties with military conglomerates and their subsidiaries,” she told SBS News.

The military coup in Myanmar has seen 149 people killed in a crackdown by authorities against demonstrators since seizing power on 1 February, according to the United Nations.

The United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar Thomas Andrews recently told the UN Human Rights Council that global unified action is critical.

“The coordinated actions of nations working together will be the most effective actions,” he said. “Various governments have imposed various sanctions against the military junta in Myanmar. This is welcome, but sanctions will only be effective if they are unified and coordinated.”

He also wants sanctions on the military owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.

“Myanmar’s natural gas projects will generate an estimated $1 billion in revenue this year. Without sanctions, the illegal military junta of Myanmar will be able to use these funds to support their criminal enterprise and their attacks on innocent people.” 

In a statement to SBS News, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it continues to keep its sanctions regime under “close review”.

“Australia maintains autonomous sanctions on Myanmar, including a long-standing arms embargo and targeted sanctions on a number of senior military officers. We continue to keep our sanctions regime under close review,” the statement said.

“Consistent with the approach we take on all sanctions regimes, we do not comment on whether or not any additional individuals are under consideration.”

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Myanmar: Streets of blood in Myaing as UN fears ‘crimes against humanity’


In one unverified graphic image, a body can be seen with the head blown apart and brain remnants spilled onto the road.

“He said it’s worth dying for,” she said. “He is worried about people not joining the protest. If so, democracy will not return to the country.”

At least 80 people have been killed since the military invalidated the results of the country’s democratic election, the United Nations human rights office said, and hundreds more injured. At least four of the deaths in recent days were individuals arrested and detained by the junta, including two officials with the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) party. All four died in custody, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

More than 2,000 people have been arbitrarily detained since the coup, according to AAPP, many of them kept out of contact from family and friends, their condition or whereabouts unknown.

CNN cannot independently verify the arrest numbers or death toll from AAPP.

Myanmar’s state run daily newspaper published a notice on Wednesday reinforcing the military’s narrative that it is using minimum force against protesters.

On Thursday, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that a “growing body of reporting” indicates the junta’s security forces are committing “acts of murder, imprisonment, persecution and other crimes as part of a coordinated campaign, directed against a civilian population, in a widespread and systematic manner, with the knowledge of the junta’s leadership.”

The “brutal response,” he said, is “thereby likely meeting the legal threshold for crimes against humanity.”

He called on UN member states to stop the flow of revenue and weapons to the junta, saying multilateral sanctions “should be imposed” on senior leaders, military-owned and controlled enterprises and the state energy firm, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.

His statement came after rights group Amnesty International released a report saying the military were embarking on a “killing spree” in Myanmar, using increasingly lethal tactics and weapons normally seen on the battlefield against peaceful protesters and bystanders.

By verifying more than 50 videos from the ongoing crackdown, Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab confirmed security forces appear to be implementing planned, systematic strategies, including the ramped-up use of lethal force, indiscriminate spraying of live ammunition in urban areas, and that many of the killings documented amount to extrajudicial executions.

“These Myanmar military tactics are far from new, but their killing sprees have never before been livestreamed for the world to see,” said Joanne Mariner, director of crisis response at Amnesty International. “These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officers making poor decisions. These are unrepentant commanders already implicated in crimes against humanity, deploying their troops and murderous methods in the open.

Fleeing to India

There is evidence the violence is forcing people to flee the country. Between 200 and 300 people have crossed the border from Myanmar into India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, fleeing the unrest, Mizoram’s chief minister told CNN.

That number includes police, civil servants, their family members, and other civilian and the number of people fleeing increases daily, according Chief Minister PU Zoramthanga.

“We (the Mizoram government) are not sending them back as a humanitarian point of view. When somebody enters the land, the country’s border, for fear of their lives we cannot simply send them back. They are not criminals. It is a political issue,” he said.

Zormanthanga added that people are given food and shelter, and many have family in Mizoram. He said it is up to the Indian central government on how to deal with people crossing the border.

Suu Kyi accused of bribery

Ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was accused of bribery and corruption by the military Thursday, adding to four charges already against her that could result in a years-long prison sentence.

Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said in a news conference that Suu Kyi accepted illegal payments worth $600,000, as well as gold, while in government, according to Reuters.

The spokesperson added that the information had been verified following a complaint from a former Yangon regional minister, and an anti-corruption committee was investigating.

Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw told CNN “the allegations are a complete fabrication.”

“I have been in politics in Myanmar for nearly 40 years, and in all these years I have not witnessed such shameless allegations” he said. “We are in a country where the people have seen lots of corruption in the past and many misbehaviors, but Aung San Suu Kyi is not in that sphere of corruption.”

He added that while he has had “many disagreements” with Suu Kyi, “when it comes corruption, bribery, greed — this is not her, she is not that kind of woman.”

Along with Suu Kyi, ousted President Win Myint, his wife, and several cabinet ministers were being investigated for allegedly asking for and accepting “money from some entrepreneurs,” the spokesperson said, without clarifying, according to Reuters.

Suu Kyi and Win Myint remain under house arrest.

The military, headed by coup-leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, took full control of the country last month, ousting Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, which had won a landslide in November 2020 elections.

The army justified its action by alleging widespread voter fraud in that poll — only the second democratic vote since the previous military junta began a series of reforms in 2011.

In a video statement played to the UN Human Rights Council, Myanmar’s permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chan Aye said: “In recent days, authorities concerned have been paying attention to maintaining law and order in the country,” and “authorities have been exercising utmost restraint to deal with the violent protests.”

People pay tribute by laying flowers and lighting candles next to dried blood at the spot where Chit Min Thu was killed in clashes on March 11 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Chan Aye also said the military leadership remains committed to “free and fair multiparty democratic elections.”

But speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, said the country doesn’t need fresh elections as the last poll was free and fair.
His comments came after the 15 countries of the UN Security Council unanimously backed the strongest statement since the coup, saying it “strongly condemns the violence against peaceful protestors” and called on the military to “exercise utmost restraint.”
UN diplomats told CNN that China, Russia, and Vietnam objected to tougher language calling events “a coup” and in one draft forced the removal of language that would have threatened further action, potentially sanctions.

In a statement, China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, said “it is important the Council members speak in one voice. We hope the message of the Council would be conducive to easing the situation in Myanmar.”

Kyaw Moe Tun said the message “does not meet the peoples’ expectation,” saying up against the brutality of the military “we all feel helpless” and called on the international community for protection.

CNN’s Sarita Harilela, Vedika Sud, Richard Roth and Radina Gigova contributed reporting.

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Burmese Australians meet with politicians in Canberra to sound alarm over violent Myanmar coup


A delegation from Australia’s Burmese community is meeting with politicians in Canberra to raise alarm over escalating human rights concerns unfolding in Myanmar.

The military coup in Myanmar has seen 149 people killed in a crackdown by authorities against demonstrators since seizing power on 1 February, according to the United Nations. 

Members of the Burmese community in Australia have been forced to watch on in despair at the intensifying heavy-handed response against the daily demonstrations.

April Htet Htet Khaing said witnessing the violent coup unfolding in her country has been “heartbreaking”.

A delegation representing their community intends to share their concerns with politicians and urge the Australian government to step up its response to the military coup.  

University student and delegate member April Htet Htet Khaing said a friend had been killed in the demonstrations, while members of her family have also been detained. 

“Imagine a country free and full of hope – one day waking up to find out everything has been taken away from you – that is very heartbreaking,” she said. 

“This is a reality for my families back [in Myanmar] – I have constant fear waking up every morning about whether I will hear from them again.”   

The UN human rights office has warned it is “deeply disturbed” by escalating violence against peaceful protests since the detention of democratically-elected Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The military crackdown has also led to mass with more than 2,084 people arbitrarily detained, according to the United Nations.

Over the next two days, the delegation is meeting with MPs across the political aisle, including eight members of the Coalition, 10 Labor members and two members of the Greens. 

This will include meetings with Liberal Senator David Fawcett, chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, former diplomat and Liberal MP Dave Sharma, as well as Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong.

The group is conducting the meetings alongside representatives from Amnesty International. 

Ko Naing Saulsman – who was an activist during another violent military coup in Myanmar in 1988 – said he has struggled to sleep since the military seized power.

Mr Saulsman said it was urgent the Australian government took stronger action in response to escalating violence.

“This is not about a political issue – this is about crime against humanity so we really want the Australian government to step up and especially our foreign minister to take action,” he said. 

“The Australian government and international community must act strongly because the military is going [to] kill every day.” 

Ko Naing Saulsman said he has struggled to sleep since the military seized power in the coup.

Ko Naing Saulsman said he has struggled to sleep since the military seized power in the coup.

Ben Patrick, SBS News

The Myanmar community delegation’s list of demands include calling on Australia to impose targeted multilateral sanctions against military generals behind the coup. 

Australia has suspended military co-operation with Myanmar and redirected aid to non-government organisations in response to the coup.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne – who has expressed “grave concerns” over escalating violence – has said the government’s “sanctions policy” remains “under close review”. 

In contrast, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have already acted to tighten sanctions against Myanmar’s military leaders. 

Amnesty International campaigner Joel McKay said Australia should be leading the charge on an international level against “human rights violations” in Myanmar. 

“This is urgent – this must happen – this must be a coordinated global effort and it’s really up to Marise Payne to show leadership and get this done,” he said. 

  

The delegation also intends to raise with politicians the need to extend temporary visas for Myanmar citizens on humanitarian grounds to protect them from returning to their country. 

University student Mary Ung said she herself held concerns about returning to her country because of the volatility of the coup. 

“I’m here to be a voice for those who have been silenced,” she said.

“I strongly believe that the Australian government has the power – the capability to stop all the atrocities and crimes against humanity going on in my country.”

University student Mary Ung said she is concerned about the prospect of returning to her country.

University student Mary Ung said she is concerned about the prospect of returning to her country.

Ben Patrick, SBS News

It’s understood the Australian government is currently considering policy options of visa measures for Myanmar citizens in response to the unfolding coup.

The US government said last Friday Myanmar citizens stranded by the violence following the coup would be able to remain inside the US under “temporary protected status”.

The delegation is also calling on Australia to recognise a body now representing Myanmar’s ousted lawmakers known as the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.

Delegate member and Australian secretary general for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party Kyaw Soemoe said the military’s crackdown against peaceful protesters must be brought to an end.

“We would like to urge Australian government to support us – please do whatever you can,” he said. 

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