JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Detentions continued across Myanmar Tuesday as police cracked down on pro-democracy dissidents opposing the military junta that seized power in the country February 1. AAPP Burma (the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners) said in a press briefing that approximately 100 people were arrested, bringing the total of people under arrest or facing outstanding charges to 988. AAPP noted in its Tuesday briefing that
It was on 2 March when the Revolutionary Council led by General Ne Win seized power fifty-nine years ago, [ensuring that] the military would rule the country through successive junta regimes up until 2015. Since that time, the military has now seized power from a democratically elected government for a third time. People from all sections of society are continuing to fight against dictatorship with mass demonstrations, the reaction has been a brutal repression practiced by successive junta regimes. Journalists and independent media are now being suppressed for covering incidents on the ground.
Law students reporting for JURIST in Myanmar now tell us that a number of their friends have been detained, and they also expressed concern about police seizing cellphones from persons they arrest, which poses obvious privacy and security risks for those arrested. A law student at Magway University in Mayway south of Mandalay reported that a March 16 court date has been set for students detained after protesting in the Milk Tea Alliance marches Sunday; their march was broken up by tear gas and the detained students were taken to Daung Nay Prison.
Another of our law student correspondents described police action and gunshots near her house after 9 PM Tuesday when the neighborhood was under curfew; cellphone video obtained afterward showed a large number of armed police gathered on a residential street, purposefully damaging cars and firing random rifle rounds into housing with no obvious target. An increasing number of terroristic incidents like this have been reported in cities up and down Myanmar.
In Kalay Township, police and soldiers opened fire on civilians with live ammunition, wounding 7.
Elsewhere in the country, another JURIST law student correspondent reported:
I saw the news that military and people from Magway Region is still fighting at night. They say military is shooting including tear gas. For Mandalay region, there was an accident about an hour ago. We still don’t know that was intentionally or just an accident. That caused the death of two children at that place and one man is in pain. For Yangon, in Thamine township (11pm), one man on patrol was shot by pistol and he is in hospital now.
Our law students in Mandalay and Yangon also report that transportation in those cities is now more difficult because of debris and barricades on the streets, sometimes put there to hinder police movements. One said:
Especially in Yangon, most roads are blocked with stones and we can’t go easily from one township to another. So people are protesting in the nearest area but the police are still everywhere. Like before, we can’t meet easily in the downtown cause of the transportation problems.
The buses are not out there like before. The taxi is expensive. Starting from the past few days, some main junctions were blocked by police so the people can’t come together easily. People put the barriers as well. We have to pass them all to get the downtown.
Whenever large groups come together, police start to destroy them. Anyway, young people are still confronting them in most places.