Myanmar coup: military tightens grip amid calls for Suu Kyi to be freed
© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Myanmar’s military appeared in firm control of the country on Tuesday morning, one day after it launched a coup and detained Aung San Suu Kyi, whose whereabouts remain unclear.
The military’s actions provoked widespread international condemnation, with US president, Joe Biden, threatening sanctions and calling for governments to press for the military to release detainees. The UN security council will meet to discuss the matter on Tuesday.
The military has claimed its actions are in line with Myanmar’s constitution but has offered little response to the flood of foreign criticism. On the streets of Yangon on Tuesday life seemed, on the surface, to be continuing as normal, and there did not appear to be a greater security presence.
Video: Why is the military taking control in Myanmar? (France 24)
Why is the military taking control in Myanmar?
Phone lines were still patchy, however, and the location of Aung San Suu Kyi was unclear. A Facebook post that could not be verified said she was being held in a compound in the capital. A statement published on the verified Facebook page of official May Win Myint said that the NLD’s executive committee called for her to be freed as soon as possible.
Her party also called for the military to acknowledge the results of November’s election and for the parliament session due to start this week to be held.
Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s parliament remain confined inside their government housing in the capital, according to reports by Associated Press. One of the lawmakers, who was unnamed, told the news agency that he and around 400 other members of parliament were able to speak to one another inside the compound and communicate with their constituencies by phone, but were not allowed to leave the housing complex in Naypyitaw. Police were inside the complex and soldiers were outside it, he added.
© AP United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the coup, which came a decade after Myanmar began its transition away from direct military rule, represented “a serious blow to democratic reforms” in the country, while a spokesperson warned the coup would worsen the plight of 600,000 Rohingya Muslims still in the country.
More than 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh following a crackdown by the military. They remain stranded in squalid and cramped refugee camps.
“There are about 600,000 Rohingya those that remain in Rakhine state, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined to camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to basic health and education services,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Gallery: Suu Kyi – From freedom fighter to pariah (dw.com)
“So our fear is that the events may make the situation worse for them,” he said.
The 15-member UN security council plans to discuss Myanmar in a closed meeting on Tuesday, diplomats said.
© Thomson Reuters Myanmar soldiers stand inside Yangon City Hall after they occupied the building, in Yangon, Myanmar February 2, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
The international community, including the UN security council, have been criticised for their response to atrocities committed against the Rohingya. Within the security council, China and Russia, both wielding veto powers, have protected Myanmar from significant pressure.
China’s UN mission told Reuters on Monday it hoped to find out more about the latest developments in Myanmar from the security council briefing on Tuesday. “It’s also our hope that any move of the council would be conducive to the stability of Myanmar rather than making the situation more complicated,” a spokesperson for the Chinese UN mission said.